As local officials monitor an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the county moves back into the ‘red’ risk level, and early voting continues, here’s what you need to know today:
- Dallas County back in the red;
- Jenkins: County broke record for day two of early voting;
- University Park Library offering ‘boo buckets’ for Halloween.
Dallas County Back In The Red
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced Wednesday that the county moved back to ‘red’ in its color-coded COVID-19 risk level chart because of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“The increase in hospitalizations, and new COVID-19 positive cases, as well as other metrics like the R-naught factor being above 1 for several weeks, has led the Public Health Committee to recommend a return to ‘Red’ on our color-coded chart, which can be found at www.DallasCountyCovid.org,” Jenkins said. “With a new and quickly escalating wave of COVID-19 cases hitting North Texas, it is more important than ever that we make good decisions. Things that doctors recommend as safe and permissible in ‘Orange,’ they recommend against in ‘Red.’ These things include dining in restaurants and personal grooming services, among other activities.”
He said the county’s implemented precautions for the safety of voters.
“We’ve already had two elections, a primary and a runoff election during COVID-19, both of which took place under a ‘Red’ (Stay Home Stay Safe) recommendation from the Public Health Committee. There has been no known spread from voting or cases attributed back to polling places and this we believe is due to the extraordinary measures everyone is taking to keep you safe at the polls. Your fellow voters are wearing their masks and the County has spent millions of dollars on disinfectants, plexiglass screens and other precautions to ensure that voters are safe,” Jenkins said.
Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 504 additional COVID-19 cases, as well as an additional death, for a cumulative total of 87,835 confirmed cases, including 1,058 confirmed deaths.
There were 50 additional probable cases reported Wednesday for a total of 4,424 probable cases including 13 probable deaths.
Of the 454 new confirmed cases reported Wednesday, 258 came through the Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) system, and 11 are from September.
The additional death reported Wednesday was a Dallas woman in her 80s who didn’t have underlying conditions.
Of the total confirmed deaths reported to date, about 24% have been associated with long-term care facilities.
The county reported 367 COVID-19 patients in acute care Tuesday. The number of emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County was 431 Tuesday, which represents around 15% of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
Of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to date, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age.
A provisional total of 283 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in school-aged children (5 to 17 years) during CDC week 40, an increase from the previous week in this age group.
The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 remains high with 10% of symptomatic patients presenting to area hospitals testing positive in the week ending Oct. 3.
“We encourage everyone to make their best decisions: wear your mask, maintain six-foot distance, and avoid large crowds. We must reverse the trend now while we have pleasant weather outside and an opportunity to do activities outside. We know that when people are forced inside with COVID-19, such as when it gets too cold for people to enjoy the outdoors later in the winter, the chance for spread increases due to the poor circulation of indoor air and there’s less sunlight to kill virus remnants left on handles and other surfaces,” said Jenkins.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s latest forecast projects total COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas County could increase to between 270 and 540 concurrent hospitalized cases by Oct. 23, and roughly 950 new COVID-19 infections per day are expected by Oct. 23.
Jenkins: County Broke Record For Day Two of Early Voting
Jenkins said the county broke the record for the second day of early voting with 118,139 voting during the two days. The first day of early voting also broke records, according to him.
Jenkins said the previous record for day two of early voting was 55,765 set in 2018.
During the first day of early voting, readers reported lines at local early voting locations–Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, University Park United Methodist Church, Oak Lawn Library, and Marsh Lane Baptist Church.
People Newspapers intern Maddie Spera reported 1,098 people had voted Our Redeemer by 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and 675 voted at Oak Lawn Branch Library, according to the most recent numbers posted there as of around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s important to vote and have your voice heard to make sure you’re actually getting people who represent your values and are trying to move the country in the direction you’re hoping to go,” a voter told her.
Don’t have time for a line? The county has a polling location map that provides wait times for most polling locations.
University Park Library Offering ‘Boo Buckets’ For Halloween
Since its relocation to Preston Center Plaza in 2013, the library has enjoyed sharing a fun, family-friendly Halloween party with residents. This year, because of the pandemic, there won’t be an onsite celebration, according to the city’s website. In lieu of a party, the library’s providing Boo Buckets for families to buy that includes creature masks, activity books, toys, and more for $8. Payment in the form of a credit or debit card will be accepted at the service desk.