The presidential election has dominated the news cycle for the last few weeks, so it was easy to forget we’re also wrestling with a merciless pandemic. But the latest numbers coming out of the county’s public health department serve as a stark reminder that the novel coronavirus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Both case counts and hospitalizations are on the rise in Dallas County, said Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services. This week’s uptick doesn’t bode well for the coming weeks, when countless families will be gathering to celebrate the holidays.
“Obviously it’s very concerning,” Huang said. “One of the hospital systems said that if we continued on this same rate in two weeks, we’d be at rates comparable to the highest we saw during the entire summer.”
Soon, Dallas County could hit mid-July levels in terms of new COVID-19 cases, which were this summer’s worst, Huang said. On July 15, there were an additional 1,055 cases and eight deaths, according to WFAA.
Wednesday afternoon, the county’s health department reported 866 new coronavirus cases and two deaths. At this pace, the county will likely reach a cumulative total of 100,000 cases by week’s end.
Dallas County is also reporting that the weekly average has risen to 733 additional cases, which is the highest daily average since July. In a statement, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the region can’t afford to enter the holiday season at this transmission rate.
“As the weather turns colder and more and more people are close to one another indoors, the threat of COVID increases, just as it did when it was hot and we were indoors,” Jenkins wrote. “We cannot start that season at an all-time high or we will have a very dark winter and a difficult spring.”
Texas’ coronavirus case rate is also trending upward, with the state’s health department on Wednesday reporting the largest new daily count since early August, according to The Dallas Morning News.
National numbers are following a similar trend. This week, the United States surpassed 100,000 new daily cases for the first time since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As such, it’s important that everyone remain vigilant in practicing coronavirus safety measures, said Dr. Erin Carlson, associate clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Although everyone is tired of having to socially distance, Carlson said it’s critical to continue doing so. Act like there is a pandemic happening is important, she said; countless new cases, hospitalizations and deaths can be traced to multi-household social gatherings.
Carlson said she knows someone whose grandfather died from the coronavirus after their family had gathered to celebrate the grandmother’s birthday. It’s better to be hypervigilant than cavalier during get-togethers since they can lead to one’s friends or family members falling seriously sick or dying, Carlson said.
“You will have a lot of guilt,” Carlson said. “It’s very important to consider if somebody becomes very ill as a result of this, is it worth it?”
Carlson said she understands the need for people to congregate for certain life events. However, she said everyone needs to wear masks and stay outdoors when possible, although the latter will get more difficult as the winter months approach.
The coronavirus is nothing to trifle with, Carlson said.
“We can still celebrate the birthday, we can still gather with our friends, but we’ll just need to do it in a different manner for the foreseeable future,” she said.
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