As New Daily Cases Near 300 Again, Dallas County Deemed a ‘Hot Spot’

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, and so does the temperature. We talk testing, new cases, hot weather safety, and protests in today’s bullet points.

  • As new daily cases near 300 again, Dallas County has been deemed a COVID-19 ‘hot spot’;
  • Fair Park Fourth of July fireworks canceled;
  • MedStar handles 27 heat-related calls last weekend;
  • Two Bullzerk shirts to benefit the Equal Justice Initiative.

As New Daily Cases Near 300 Again, Dallas County Deemed a ‘Hot Spot’

It’s been 13 days since Dallas County has had less than 200 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a day, and Tuesday was no exception, with county health officials reporting 298 new cases, bringing the case count to 12,645.

That alarming trend has the county ranked fifth in the country for new cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Will Maddox at our sister publication, D CEO, has more here.

Tuesday’s daily case report also brought seven additional deaths, bringing the death toll to 271. Among the dead are a Mesquite woman in her 30s with underlying medical conditions; a Dallas woman in her 40s with underlying conditions; a Dallas woman in her 50s with no underlying health conditions; and a Dallas man in his 70s with underlying health conditions. A Garland woman in her 50s died at an area hospital emergency room, and two long-term care facility residents also died – an Irving man in his 70s and a Seagoville woman in her 80s.

Of cases requiring hospitalization, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have high-risk chronic health conditions. Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Of the 271 total deaths reported to date, over a third have been associated with long-term care facilities.

The county also said that there has been an increase of patients in the daily census numbers, with the new patients cresting 300 on June 8. There was also an increase in the percentage of people coming to emergency rooms with possible COVID-19 symptoms to 25%, or some 446 patients.

In his evening newsletter Tuesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said that 25 hospitals reported their bed availability. Of the 6,053 total beds, 65% were occupied. Of the 926 ICU beds available, 67% were occupied. There were 966 ventilators available, with 326 in use.

Of cases requiring hospitalization who reported employment, about 85% have been critical infrastructure workers including those in healthcare (14%), transportation (13%), food and agriculture – which includes grocery stores and places you can buy food (16%), public works (13%), custodians and other hygiene services (4%), finance (4%), communications (2%), teachers, real estate, and clergy (5%), and first responders (3%).

“Today’s new number of COVID-19 cases ties with the highest day thus far, but keep in mind that we have more testing capability this week and that will continue to ramp up,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “The number of hospitalizations, ER visits for COVID-19 and ICU admissions for COVID-19 remains flat, which means we have yet to see that 14-day decline or really any decline that the doctors want to see before loosening restrictions.

“All this means you should continue to avoid crowds, maintain 6-foot distancing, wear a cloth face covering to protect yourself and those around you when on public transportation or at businesses, and use good hand hygiene.”

In the county’s June 9 aggregate report, most cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 41% of the cases, and the 41-64 age group accounting for another 39% of the total cases.

Close contact or community transmission continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19,  accounting for roughly 78.4% of all cases. Living in a long-term care facility, being incarcerated in the county jail, and working in a meat or food processing plant are a distant second, third, and fourth, at 4.5%, 3.5%, and 2.5%, respectively.

Of the testing done, positive cases accounted for 10.9% as of May 30, with 419 positives coming from 3,851 tests. This number remains somewhat flat, although time will tell if it remains so. Testing and positive test results of COVID-19 far outpaces any other respiratory virus – even if you combine them all.

Fifteen percent of all cases ended up hospitalized – 30% ended up in intensive care, and 17% ended up on a ventilator.

In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 6,986, or 55.2%. Highland Park has 19 cases so far, and University Park has 30.

Jenkins also said that the county is encouraging those who have been involved in protests to consider being tested for COVID-19.

“There is an opportunity tomorrow from 2-5 p.m. for people who’ve been involved in protests five or more days ago to be tested with a confidential and free COVID-19 test to be performed by Parkland Hospital at the American Airlines Center,” he said. “There will be a protest before the test site opens and this is a great opportunity to learn your status to protect yourself, your family, fellow protesters, and the community. I urge everyone to take part. Your information is not shared with law enforcement, nor does a test count against the public charge rule.”

Fair Park Fourth of July Fireworks Canceled

Fair Park First announced Tuesday that the annual Fair Park Fourth event has been canceled “due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in the interest of public safety.”

MedStar Handles 27 Heat-Related Calls Last Weekend

As temperatures climb – as they are wont to do in the Texas summer – MedStar is warning the public to take the heat into account when planning outdoor activities.

“Just this past weekend we responded to 27 heat calls and 17 patients were serious enough to require transport to the hospital,” the company said.

And given the abundance of protests being done in the heat, the tips the company provided to avoid heat-related illnesses are especially important.

“As the north Texas temperatures rise, it’s a good time to remember that prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke,” the company said.

“Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses large amounts of water and salt through excessive sweating, particularly through hard physical labor or exercise,” MedStar explained. “This loss of essential fluids can disturb circulation and interfere with brain function. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include muscle cramps, paleness, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.  Children and the elderly are especially susceptible.”

Heatstroke is more serious, and if someone is experiencing confusion, vomiting, alteration in sweating, hot and flushed skin, rapid heart rate, decreased sweating, shortness of breath, decreased urination, increased body temperature (104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit), or convulsions, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.

To help ward off injury, MedStar suggests the following:

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water during the day, especially if you are engaged in any strenuous activity. Sports drinks are a good choice if you’re exercising or working in hot conditions, but water is a good way to hydrate as well.
  • Ventilate: Stay in a place where there is plenty of air circulating to keep your body cool. If you are indoors and don’t have access to air conditioning, open windows and use a fan.
  • Cover Up: Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing to avoid absorbing the sun’s light and trapping heat.  Wear a hat to shield yourself from the sun, but once you feel yourself getting warm, remove any items covering your head which can trap heat close to your body.
  • Limit Activity: Heatstroke can occur in less than an hour when you are participating in strenuous activity during a hot day.  If you feel yourself getting hot or light-headed, stop your activity and rest in a cool place out of the sun.  Be sure to drink water or a sports drink before, during, and after any strenuous activity.
  • Check on Loved Ones: The elderly are especially vulnerable to heat-related emergencies.  Many elderly residents are not aware of how hot it may get in their residence.  Call on older friends and family members regularly to assure they are doing OK.

Thinking of exercising your first amendment rights this week? Here are a few of the demonstrations planned:

  • Thursday, 10:30 a.m.: Rally For Hope Against the Injustices of Our School System, Linus D. Wright Administration Building, 9400 Central Expressway.
  • Friday, 3:30 p.m.: Rally For the People, By the People, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 2922 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
  • Saturday, 1 p.m.: Black State of Emergency, Reverchon Park
  • Saturday, 4:30 p.m.: Dallas Day of Action to Stop Police Crimes, Confederate War Memorial, 1201 Marilla St.
  • Sunday, 2 p.m.: We Will Breathe March and Rally, starts at Klyde Warren Park.
Two Bullzerk Shirts To Benefit Equal Justice Initiative

Dallas gift company Bullzerk announced this week that it has created two new t-shirts, and 100% of the proceeds from them will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative.

“Bullzerk is committed to being a part of the solution,” the company said. “EJI is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”

The two shirts read “Solidarity Is Not A Crime,” and “I See You. I Hear You, I Am With You,” and retail for $23.

To order, click here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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