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Dallas County hits 1,000 COVID-19 deaths; pandemic’s path hinges on individual choices, Jenkins says – The Dallas Morning News

Correction, 10 p.m. Sept. 22: An earlier version of the article and its headline incorrectly said COVID-19 has killed more Dallas County residents than strokes and all forms of heart disease and cancer. The virus has had a higher death toll than strokes or any other cause except heart disease or cancer.

On the same day that the U.S. officially surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, Dallas County reached a new sobering marker of its own, announcing three new deaths that lifted the county’s total pandemic fatalities to 1,000.

Dallas County’s first reported death came on March 19. Since then, COVID-19 has killed more county residents than strokes or any other cause except heart disease or cancer, according to data from Parkland Memorial Hospital’s Center for Clinical Innovation.

In a written statement, County Judge Clay Jenkins called Tuesday a “grim milestone.”

“If we were to extrapolate that death rate across a 365-day period, we would have over 2,000 deaths,” Jenkins said in a written statement. “Whether or not that occurs is largely up to you.”

The latest victims were a Dallas woman in her 50s, a Garland man in his 70s and a Grand Prairie man in his 80s. All had underlying high-risk health conditions and died in area hospitals.

Meanwhile, the county reported 173 additional coronavirus cases Tuesday. The figure includes two older cases from June and July. All of the others are from September and are considered new.

The county said 73 cases came from the state’s reporting system. The rest were reported directly to the county health department.

Separately, the county has logged 3,875 probable cases, including one announced Tuesday. The county has also recorded 11 deaths probably related to the virus.

Probable virus cases and deaths include people who test positive in an antigen test, have antibodies for the virus or have COVID-19 symptoms and have had contact with someone with a confirmed case.

‘Public good over selfish desires’

Though the day was a reminder of the devastation the pandemic continues to inflict, Jenkins noted that metrics for hospitalizations, positivity rates on tests and new cases — all areas that the county uses to track the spread of the virus — are promising.

In the most recent 24 hours, 318 COVID-19 patients were in acute care in hospitals in the county, and 329 ER visits were for symptoms of the disease.

Dallas County doesn’t provide a rate of positive results for all COVID-19 tests conducted in the area; county health officials have said they don’t have an accurate count of how many tests are conducted each day. But as of its most recent reporting period, 10% of people who showed up at hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for the virus. Jenkins said that while that is still high, it’s the same as it was the previous week.

In an interview with KDFW-TV (Channel 4) on Monday, Dr. Philip Huang, the county health director, said that, so far, the county had avoided a post-Labor Day weekend spike in cases.

Whether positive trends continue, Jenkins said, depends on choices made by individual residents.

“If we continue to make good choices as a community, things will get better and the next 179 days will be better for public health, for business, and for our children than the first 179 days,” Jenkins said. “But our success is up to each and every one of you putting the public good over selfish desires to take part in the few activities that doctors tell us are not yet safe to participate in.”

While other North Texas counties provide estimates for how many people have recovered from the virus, Dallas County officials do not report recoveries, saying it’s not a measurement used by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The county reported that 179 school-age children tested positive for COVID-19 Sept. 6-12 — the most recent week for which data was available. That’s an increase from the previous week for the age group.

More than two-thirds of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization so far have been in people under 65, and diabetes has been an underlying condition in about one-third of hospitalized patients, according to the county.

Statewide data

Across the state, 3,964 more coronavirus cases and 77 more deaths were reported Tuesday.

Texas has now logged 716,207 confirmed cases and 14,994 fatalities.

There are 3,207 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals, including 772 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the state reported.

The seven-day average positivity rate statewide, based on the date of test specimen collection, was 6.46% as of Monday. State health officials have said that using data based on when people were tested provides the most accurate positivity rate.

The state also provides a positivity rate based on when lab results were reported to the state; that rate stood at 7.85% as of Monday.

Tarrant County

Tarrant County reported 302 more coronavirus cases and three more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.

The latest victims all had underlying high-risk health conditions. They were two Fort Worth women — one in her 60s, the other in her 80s — and an Arlington man in his 70s.

The newly reported coronavirus cases bring the county’s total to 47,533, including 3,265 considered probable. The death toll stands at 636, and 41,469 people have recovered.

According to the county’s dashboard, 248 people were hospitalized with the virus.

Based on the county’s benchmarks for reopening schools and citing a recent spike in coronavirus activity, Tarrant County Public Health recommends that all county students remain in virtual learning.

Fort Worth ISD trustees voted last week not to extend virtual learning, paving the way for in-person learning to resume Oct. 5. However, a new vote was scheduled for Tuesday evening’s board meeting.

Collin County

Collin County reported 49 more coronavirus cases and one COVID-19 death Tuesday, bringing its case total to 13,060 and the death toll to 138.

The county has 945 active cases, and 12,115 people have recovered. According to the county dashboard, 96 people were hospitalized with the virus.

Collin County, which receives its data from the Department of State Health Services since turning over case management in June, has a note on its dashboard warning residents that it has low confidence in the numbers the state is providing.

Denton County

Denton County reported 95 coronavirus cases and two more COVID-19 deaths Tuesday.

The victims were a man in his 50s who lived in unincorporated northwest Denton County and a woman in her 70s who lived at Mayberry Gardens, an assisted-living facility in Denton. Their deaths bring the county’s death toll to 109.

The new coronavirus cases bring the county’s case total to 11,702, including 1,508 that were still active. The county has logged 10,085 recoveries from the virus.

Other counties

The Texas Department of State Health Services has taken over reporting for other North Texas counties. New data may not be available for some counties each day.

The latest numbers are:

  • Rockwall County: 1,561 cases, 25 deaths.
  • Kaufman County: 3,068 cases, 47 deaths.
  • Ellis County: 4,291 cases, 67 deaths.
  • Johnson County: 2,891 cases, 49 deaths.

Correction, 10:15 p.m. Sept. 22: An earlier version of this article misspelled Dallas County Health Director Philip Huang’s first name as Phillip.

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