Dallas County Could Achieve Herd Immunity By Summer

As residents and businesses continue to assess the damages wrought by last week’s winter storm, potentially good news arrives about the pandemic. These are today’s bullet points:

  • Dallas County could achieve herd immunity by summer;
  • County reports 18 deaths on Tuesday;
  • Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center offers insurance claim advice;
  • Abbott to deliver statewide address on storm.
Dallas County could achieve herd immunity by summer

Not quite a year after Dallas County reported its first case of COVID-19, good news arrives.

The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation said Tuesday it estimates that Dallas County will potentially reach herd immunity in late-June, based on total case recoveries and vaccinations.

The PCCI forecast says the county is on track to have 80% of the county’s residents at levels of herd immunity by early summer, based on models estimating how many have either recovered from COVID-19 or who have received vaccinations.

“Our forecast is determined by the data, models, and trends we have been monitoring and analyzing since the beginning of the pandemic and informed by the latest national and international research. We are optimistic that by early summer, much of Dallas County will reach herd immunity,” said Steve Miff, PhD, president and CEO of PCCI. “We will get to herd immunity either through continued infection, which is a slow route that will continue to harm the community and economy, or vaccinations. This underscores the importance of Dallas County residents registering for and receiving the COVID-19 vaccinations as quickly as possible and continuing to stay vigilant and safe from being infected. 

“We’re also racing to stay ahead of the development and spread of existing or future new COVID-19 strains.  We are in this together and will only get there though our collective and combined efforts.”

As of this week, PCCI’s analysis found that the county is currently at around 44%, based on how many of the county’s 2.6 million adult residents have either had the virus or are in the process of being vaccinated.

That includes 922,460 COVID-19 confirmed and presumed infected and recovered, and 270,642 residents who have received their first (154,766) and second (115,875) vaccine shot. 

“Reaching the tipping point for herd immunity is achievable with continued community effort,” said Thomas Roderick, PhD, senior director of data and applied sciences at PCCI. “But parts of the county may not share the early benefits in our estimated forecast if they don’t keep pace with vaccines. Vaccines are also the best line of defense against COVID-19 variants, so it is critical that vaccines are made available to as many people as possible and county residents make it a priority to get vaccinated.”

PCCI’s forecast for herd immunity is based on widely accepted statistical analysis of spread and management of diseases within communities. PCCI’s 80% range for reaching herd immunity is in line with national estimates, such as that of Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who recently gave a range of 70 to 90 percent and the World Health Organization that gave a 60 to 70 percent range of infections and vaccines to reach herd immunity.

PCCI’s forecast and estimates have been developed in coordination with and reviewed by community health leaders in Dallas County including experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and Parkland Health & Hospital System.

“Our predictions for Dallas County to reach its herd immunity tipping point include algorithms to predict total infections and forecasts of vaccination rates,” said Dr. George ‘Holt’ Oliver, vice president of clinical informatics at PCCI. “We encourage the community to participate in virological studies such as the one conducted by our colleagues at UT Southwestern (https://utswmed.org/covidstudy/) so we can better understand the community infections and impact.  We also need to register and vaccinate the most vulnerable as well as the rest of the population as soon as they are eligible.”

PCCI will update its forecast monthly to understand how well the county is progressing toward its 80% vaccinated and infected and recovered rate.

County reports 18 deaths on Tuesday

Dallas County health officials Tuesday reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 (including 112 probable cases), and 18 deaths.

“We believe this number is down because of the lack of testing during the power outages, but we also believe the numbers are trending in our favor. In the coming days, we will have a more accurate daily count as things return to normal,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Among those deaths was a Dallas woman in her 30s with no underlying conditions. Seventeen were age 50 or older, and nine were from Dallas.

A total of 466 children in Dallas County under 18 years of age have been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic, including 37 patients diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C).  Over 80% of reported MIS-C cases in Dallas have occurred in children who are Hispanic or Latino or Black. One death of a teacher in a Dallas County K-12 school from COVID-19 was confirmed this past week.

The county said that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Monday was 540 patients. Emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms represented about 15% of all ER visits, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council

Jenkins said the county’s vaccination efforts continue to ramp up after the storm.

“We have received our allotment of the Moderna vaccine and now have 15,000 doses to catch up on second shots,” he said.

Wednesday, the county also begins its work to vaccinate underserved populations in the county.

“Tomorrow, we will also began our federal partnership with the Biden Administration, FEMA and the Department of Defense to vaccinate the most underserved populations in Dallas County,” Jenkins said Tuesday. “We will vaccinate approximately 3,000 persons per day in that partnership using Pfizer vaccine. The County’s second shots are for Moderna vaccine. When the federal troops finish with the 3,000 Pfizer first doses for underserved populations, they will then move to helping us with Moderna second doses.

“Once we know on any given day when that will happen, we will announce it on Twitter and possibly open up more days for people to come and get shots,” he continued. “I know this is frustrating and not an ideal way to keep you informed. However, our initial first shots were done under an operating system that had to be replaced and we do not have contact information for many of you in need of second shots.

“In less than 10 days, all second shots will be under the new operating system and we’ll be able to get appointments for people and greatly improve the customer experience of both second and first shots. Please bear with us as we catch everyone up on their shots.”

Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center offers insurance claim advice
Abbott to deliver statewide address on storm

Gov. Greg Abbott will deliver a televised statewide address on Wednesday at 6:02 p.m. During the live address, the Governor will discuss the recent power outages experienced across Texas and the state’s ongoing recovery response to the winter storm.

The address is expected to be carried on all local TV stations.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital 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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