New Cases of Coronavirus Hit 408 on Sunday, Hospitalizations Up

New cases of the novel coronavirus continue to hit the 400 range, and hospitalizations continue to climb. Here are the bullet points you need to know for the beginning of your week:

  • New cases of coronavirus hit 408 on Sunday, and hospitalizations are up;
  • Study shows mandating face masks can reduce new case increases;
  • Norma’s Cafe supports Birthday Party Project throughout June.

New Cases of Coronavirus Hit 408 on Sunday, Hospitalizations Up

A total of 1,197 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported by Dallas County health officials between Friday and Sunday, and an additional seven deaths, bringing the county’s total cases up to 14,232, including 284 deaths.

The county reported 394 new cases and four deaths on Friday, 395 new cases and two deaths on Saturday, and 408 new cases and one death on Sunday.

“This has been our toughest week by far of COVID-19. We broke 400 for the first time this week and today we are just shy of 400 new cases; however, the more important number to look at is hospitalizations and that number too is very concerning,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Friday. “We’ve seen a 60% increase over the last two weeks in hospitalizations, and we currently sit a record high of 454 hospitalized cases today.

“Think of hospitalizations as the sickest of the sick, the top of the iceberg that’s above the water. When you see an increase in hospitalizations, you know that there is an exponential number below the water of people who are sick and spreading the disease in our community.”

Among the dead are a Grand Prairie man in his 30s with underlying health conditions, a Dallas man in his 50s with no underlying health conditions, a Dallas woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions, a Dallas man in his 60s with no underlying health conditions, and a Dallas man in his 70s with underlying health conditions.

Additionally, two residents of long-term care facilities died – a man in his 60s died at the Dallas facility he resided in, and a man in his 60s who lived in a Farmers Branch facility. More than a third of all COVID-19 deaths have been from cases that originated at long-term care facilities.

“Today’s numbers are once again over 400 and are strong evidence as to why we need to all make good personal responsibility decisions,” Jenkins said Sunday “I had the chance to go into a grocery store today and saw every person in the store wearing a mask. These are the sort of strong personal responsibility decisions we need to curb the spread of COVID-19 now that we are seeing a second wave.”

The county said that the average number of COVID-19 hospitalizations had been hovering somewhere between 300-350 for several weeks, but that the county has now seen an increase to 454 cases. Emergency room visits also continued to increase, representing about 27% of all ER visits, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.

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.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said that 25 Dallas hospitals reported their bed availability Sunday. Of the 6,083 total beds, 69% were occupied. Of the 941 ICU beds available, 73% were occupied. There were 960 ventilators available, with 332 in use.

But if you look week over week (and if you’ve been keeping track), the number of beds, ICU beds, and ventilators fluctuates. This can make just looking at daily percentages a little misleading at times because while it may appear percentages go below the threshold of 70% that many feel begins to breach the comfort zone for what area hospitals can handle, simple math will dictate that say, 70% of 6,000 is different from 70% of 6,100.

Will Coleman, Preston Hollow native and CEO of the rideshare company Alto, has been tracking those fluctuations.

UT Southwestern’s latest forecast projects an increase of roughly 20% in hospitalizations over the next two weeks. By June 22, Dallas County hospitals could see concurrent hospitalizations from COVID-19 increase by 410 to 520 cases, the forecast said.

It also predicted that cases would average 380 per day by June 29, and after last week, the county is on pace to possibly even surpass that.

 

In the county’s June 19 aggregate report, most cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 43% of the cases, and the 41-64 age group accounting for another 37% of the total cases.

“An increasing proportion of COVID-19 cases are being diagnosed in young adults between 18 to 39 years of age,
such that of all cases reported after June 1st, almost half have been in this age group,” the county said.

Close contact or community transmission continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19,  accounting for roughly 89.1% 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 3.7%, 3.4%, and 1.9%, respectively.

Of the testing done, positive cases accounted for 23.2% as of June 13, with 919 positives coming from 3,953 tests. This number increased since June 6’s 13.5% positive rate, but there was also a substantial increase in tests performed, too. Testing and positive test results of COVID-19 far outpaces any other respiratory virus – even if you combine them all.

Fourteen percent of all cases ended up hospitalized – 28% ended up in intensive care, and 16% ended up on a ventilator.

In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 8.932, or 55.7%. Highland Park has 20 cases so far, and University Park has 33.

Statewide, 1,526,180 tests have been administered, with 111,601 testing positive in 240 counties, and 2,182 deaths so far.

Study Shows Mandating Face Masks Can Reduce New Case Increases

A study published June 16 links a slowdown in new cases of COVID-19 and areas that have rules in place mandating the use of face coverings.

The study’s Fast Track Ahead of Print article, which was an accepted version of a peer-reviewed manuscript, was published in Health Affairs and authored by Wei Lyo, a researcher with the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health and George L. Wehby, a professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa, and a researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“The study provides evidence that states in the US mandating use of face masks in public had a greater decline in daily COVID-19 growth rates after issuing these mandates compared to states that did not issue mandates,” the two write. “These effects are observed conditional on other existing social distancing measures and are independent of the CDC recommendation to wear facial covers issued on April 3.

“As countries worldwide and states begin to relax social distancing restrictions and considering the high likelihood of a second COVID-19 wave in the fall/winter, requiring use of face masks in public might help in reducing COVID-19 spread.”

The study used what it calls “evidence from a natural experiment on the effects of state government mandates” in 15 states, between April 8 and May 15.

“Mandating face mask use in public is associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate by 0.9, 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, and 2.0 percentage-points in 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, 16–20, and 21+ days after signing, respectively,” the article said. “Estimates suggest as many as 230,000–450,000 COVID-19 cases possibly averted by May 22, 2020 by these mandates.”

To see the article, click here.

Norma’s Cafe Supports Birthday Party Project Throughout June
Photo: Courtesy The Birthday Party Project

Dallas dining icon Norma’s Cafe is celebrating its 64th birthday by raising money and collecting toys for The Birthday Party Project throughout the month of June. The local restaurant chain is also encouraging guests to send personalized birthday video messages to the kids.

“In the nearly seven decades Norma’s has been celebrating and serving our community, we have always striven to find creative ways to give back out of gratitude to our loyal customers” said Ed Murph, owner of Norma’s Cafe. “Given the unprecedented need across our community, we are excited to continue our partnership with The Birthday Party Project and bring happy memories to a growing number of children in need across the metroplex.”

Celebrating children experiencing homelessness, The Birthday Party Project hosts monthly parties at homeless and transitional living facilities across the country, where families and birthday enthusiasts (volunteers) can celebrate together. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization, unable to throw its usual parties, has pivoted to providing a “Birthday in a Bag,” in addition to a birthday gift, for the children. The “Birthday in a Bag” includes age appropriate games and activities for each child and a special QR code that links to a special virtual birthday wish. Each month, the organization celebrates about 200 birthdays from coast to coast.

“Norma’s Cafe has been a pillar of generosity in our community for decades. Their continued support of The Birthday Party Project is so encouraging, especially during this pandemic”, said Paige Chenault, founder and chief birthday enthusiast. “More kids than ever are experiencing homelessness.  And now more than ever, kids need to know that someone is cheering for them and celebrating them on their birthday.  We are grateful to Norma’s for using their platform for good-and for the ways they leverage their influence in the community to drive real change that brings lasting JOY to so many, especially our kids!”

Throughout the month of June, Norma’s encourages guests to bring a toy to any one of its five locations or make a donation toward the cause. These gifts will be sent to children residing in homeless shelters or foster homes throughout DFW. Right now, The Birthday Party Project is asking for items and toys for toddlers and teens. An Amazon wish list is also available here.

Norma’s customers can also send birthday wishes to the kids via email by sending a message to Joy@TheBirthdayPartyProject.org. If they are interested in further supporting The Birthday Party Project away from a Norma’s location, customers can also donate directly to the organization through Norma’s Cafe’s Share Your Birthday page.

For more information about the Norma’s Cafe on W. Davis Street, Dallas Parkway, Park Lane, Frisco or in Plano, or ordering your next meal for pickup, call (972) 820-5871 or visit www.NormasCafe.com. Delivery is now available through Favor.

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 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 doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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