Dallas County has been seeing an increasing number of coronavirus cases every day for nearly two weeks, and now healthcare professionals are sounding an alarm.
The operative words are "new high."
- The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations — more than 4,000 — hit a new high.
- The daily number of cases on June 23 was 445 — a new high.
- Eleven Dallas police officers have tested positive. A new high.
In a live presentation, infectious disease specialists from UT Southwestern Medical Center shared a model predicting that Dallas-Fort Worth will see a surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, and cautioned residents to remain diligent in their precautions as a way to stave it off.
Hospitals' COVID-19 units are starting to fill up, said Dr. Mujeeb Basit, an assistant professor at UTSW.
With the likelihood of big Fourth of July weekend parties, they're looking at "exponential growth" of COVID-19 cases.
"Severe cases are rapidly rising," Dr. Basit said. "Up to now, the increase in the number of people testing positive has been attributed to an increase in testing. But hospitalizations have increased by 24 percent compared to one week ago, with significant increases since the Memorial Day holiday weekend."
He called it "alarming" because, even if we were to change things now, you wouldn't see the effect right away.
"Changing course doesn't affect things for at least a week," he said. "That's why forecasting is important. The current trajectory does not look good."
June has seen an increase in the percentage of younger people, aged 21 to 40, testing positive, requiring ICU care and ventilation beds, all of which has occurred since Texas began relaxing restrictions.
At least 30 percent of critical cases were younger than age 50, and nearly 50 percent of hospitalizations are of patients younger than 50.
Hispanic populations are also getting hit hard: The positivity rate of Hispanic patients is 5 to 7 times higher than any other ethnic group.
Dr. Julie Trivedi, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with Parkland Health & Hospital System, emphasized the importance of taking personal responsibility with the upcoming July 4th holiday.
"It's OK to say, 'I don't think it's safe to go to this event," Dr. Trivedi said. "And face coverings are important, which need to cover your mouth and nose."
The concern is not just for Dallas County but also surrounding areas.
According to UTSW figures, statistics in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties all show that the pandemic is spreading. Tarrant County reported a seven-day high of 25 percent positivity on Tuesday, while hospitalization rates in Collin County and Denton County have doubled in the last week.