County Warily Watches Labor Day Activity As Cases Slow

The good news: Cases are continuing to remain below 400 most days, and often below 300. The worrisome news: This trajectory depends on good behavior during Labor Day, and the diligence of schools as students return to campus. We have two bullet points for the holiday Monday:

  • County warily watches Labor Day activity as cases slow;
  • Dallas Park and Recreation offers virtual learning hubs.
County Warily Watches Labor Day Activity As Cases Slow

A total of 840 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported by Dallas County health officials between Friday and Sunday, and an additional 11 deaths, bringing the county’s total case count up to  73,700 including 945 confirmed deaths.

For reference, last Sunday, the total case count was  71,170, and 901 deaths.

On Friday, the county reported 195 confirmed cases and nine confirmed deaths; on Saturday, 398 confirmed cases and one confirmed, with 203 coming from the state reporting system (and 195 coming from older months); and on Sunday, 247 confirmed cases and one death, with 125 coming from the state system.

The provisional 7-day average daily new confirmed and probable cases (by date of test collection) for CDC week 35 has increased slightly to 244. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 has also increased, with 10.8% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in week 35.

Among the dead are an Irving man in his 50s, a Grand Prairie man in his 50s, a Grand Prairie woman in her 50s, a Sachse man in his 60s, a Dallas man in his 60s, an Irving man in his 70s, an Irving man in his 80s, a Lancaster man in his 80s, and a Dallas man in his 90s who died in hospice care. All had underlying high-risk medical conditions.

On average, long-term care facilities continue to account for a quarter to a third of all COVID-19 deaths, including a man in his 80s who lived at a Dallas facility, and a man in his 90s who lived in a Rowlett facility.

“This is our last three-day weekend of the summer and it’s imperative to what happens for the next six months that we all use good judgement, wear our masks, maintain six foot distance, wash our hands frequently and avoid large crowds for this three-day weekend,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins warned Friday. “If collectively people make good decisions for the Labor Day weekend like they did for the 4th of July, and we don’t see a spike, we’ll be in a very good position going into the fall. 

“If it’s a repeat of Memorial Day, we’ll see our numbers climb dramatically in the next two weeks and it’ll take months to get us back to where we are now.”

The county said that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday was 352 patients. Emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms represented about 20% of all ER visits, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.

UT Southwestern’s latest forecast projects that by Sept. 14, Dallas County hospitals could see concurrent hospitalizations decline or flatten to between 270 and 490 cases, with roughly 540 new cases per day on average. The new modeling does take into account the return to school campuses.

In the county’s Sept. 4 aggregate report, most confirmed cases continue to be between the ages of 18 and 60, with the 18-40 age group accounting for 46% of the cases, and the 41-64 age group accounting for another 34% of the total cases.

From Aug, 15-28, 317 school-aged children between 5 to 17 years of age were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Dallas County. About 50% of these cases were high school age. By zip code of residence, 167 (53%) of these children were projected to have been enrolled in Dallas ISD schools.

Close contact or community transmission continues to be the biggest risk factor for contracting COVID-19,  accounting for more than 93% of all cases. Being incarcerated in a federal prison, living in a long-term care facility or being incarcerated in the county jail are a distant second, third, and fourth, at 1.9%, 1.8% and 0.9%, respectively.

Of the testing done, positive cases accounted for 10.8% as of Aug. 29, with 668 positives coming from 6,199 tests. Testing for the week prior found that positive cases accounted for 11.3% of all testing.

Ten percent of all cases ended up hospitalized – 24% ended up in intensive care, and 13% ended up on a ventilator.

In a city-by-city breakdown, Dallas still comes in with the highest number of cases – 38,506 confirmed cases and 1,580 probable cases. Highland Park has 73 confirmed cases (up from 69 last week) and another 23 probable cases, and University Park has 157 confirmed cases (up from 142), and 124 probable cases.

Dallas Park and Recreation Offers Virtual Learning Hubs

As Dallas ISD begins school remotely tomorrow, and will remain so until Oct. 5 for most students, working parents have one more option – Dallas Park and Recreation has opened up recreation centers for virtual learning hubs.

A VLH is a supervised work space for students in first through sixth grade. Recreation center staff will assist with any technical issues and keep students focused, and will provide activities during classroom downtime.

The hubs begin Tuesday, and will be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Students will be required to bring their face masks, laptops or tablets, headphones, and school supplies.  

Locations include Churchill Recreation Center, KB Polk Recreation Center, Reverchon Recreation Center, and Walnut Hill Recreation Center.

To participate, students must have a valid Dallas recreation card, and parents must register their child in person. Space is limited.

For more information, and a full list of participating recreation centers, 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 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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