Updated at 5:50 p.m.: revised to include state data.
The state hospital region that includes Dallas-Fort Worth reported COVID-19 hospitalizations above Gov. Greg Abbott’s 15% threshold for the seventh day in a row Thursday, prompting a rollback of indoor capacity for businesses in the area.
The state said 15.55% of hospital beds in North Texas were occupied by coronavirus patients. According to the governor’s order, after seven consecutive days above 15%, businesses must reduce their indoor occupancy rates from 75% to 50%.
There are 9,151 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals, including 2,545 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Gov. Abbott’s executive orders remain in place for people in Texas to wear face coverings inside restaurants unless they’re seated to eat and drink. Outdoor areas such as restaurant patios have no occupancy limit, but diners must maintain social distancing. Bars that don’t have a food and beverage permit issued by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission must remain closed. Elective surgeries also will be put on hold.
The county said in a written statement Thursday night that the businesses include all restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums and libraries. According to the governor’s order, the region will remain under the restrictions until there are seven consecutive days where the percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations is under 15%, the county said.
Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Gov. Greg Abbott, said Thursday the “mitigation protocols work, but only if they are enforced.” Last month, Abbott suggested that local authorities were not fully enforcing his COVID-19 orders.
But Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, like local officials across the state, has said the county and its municipalities are hamstrung on enforcing mask rules and the number of customers allowed inside businesses because the state sets those restrictions. Part of the trouble is that a warning is required first, officials say. A recent check of records showed that the city of Dallas had issued nearly 6,200 warnings since March but only 37 official citations.
Today is the 7th day our region has been above the 15% of all available beds occupied by COVID19 patients threshold. Pursuant to @GovAbbott GA-32, once today’s numbers are updated on the @TexasDSHS website (tonight) our region will be subject immediately to a decrease….
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) December 3, 2020
On Thursday Dallas County reported three COVID-19 deaths as it announced 2,122 more coronavirus cases.
The latest fatalities were a Dallas man in his 60s and two Dallas men in their 70s, all of whom had been hospitalized. All three victims had underlying health problems.
Of the new cases reported Thursday, 1,637 are confirmed and 485 are probable. The newly reported cases bring the county’s total confirmed cases to 130,830 and probable cases to 12,909. The county has recorded 1,224 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 36 probable deaths.
The county recently announced it is counting only positive antigen tests (sometimes called rapid tests) as probable cases; a few antibody and “household” results were included previously.
Although other North Texas counties provide estimates for how many people have recovered from the virus, Dallas County officials do not report recoveries, noting that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not use that metric.
In a written statement Jenkins said Thursday that he expects healthcare workers and nursing home residents would begin to receive vacccines this month. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that the state would receive 1.4 million coronavirus vaccines the week of Dec. 14.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Jenkins said. “However, we are not there yet, and it is imperative that we all do what we can do to get a little bit safer for ourselves, our community and our country until the vaccine can have its effect.”
The county reported that from Nov. 15 to 21, 1,157 school-age children tested positive for COVID-19. In the last week, 13 K-12 Dallas County schools initiated temporary closures for in-person instruction because of COVID-19 cases.
More than two-thirds of all confirmed cases requiring hospitalization so far have been in people under 65, and diabetes has been an underlying condition in about one-third of all hospitalized patients, according to the county.
The county’s provisional seven-day average of daily new confirmed and probable cases for the latest reporting period, Nov. 15-21, was 1,347. The figure is calculated by the date of the COVID-19 test collection, according to the county.
Dallas County doesn’t provide a positivity rate for all COVID-19 tests conducted in the area; county health officials have said they don’t have an accurate count of how many tests are conducted each day. But as of the county’s most recent reporting period, 17.3% of people who showed up at hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for the virus. That’s an increase from the previous reporting period, when 17% such patients tested positive.
Of the county’s total confirmed COVID-19 deaths, about 23% are associated with long-term care facilities.
Across the state, 13,857 more cases and 244 COVID-19 deaths were reported Thursday. Texas has now reported 1,215,113 confirmed cases and 22,000 fatalities.
The seven-day average positivity rate statewide, based on the date of test specimen collection, was 15.02% as of Wednesday. State health officials said using data based on when people were tested provides the most accurate positivity rate.
The state also provides a positivity rate based on when lab results were reported to the state; that rate stood at 13.3% as of Wednesday.
Officials previously calculated Texas’ coronavirus positivity rate by dividing the most recent seven days of new positive test results by the most recent seven days of total new test results. By that measure, the positivity rate is now 11.45%, according to the state dashboard.
Tarrant County reported 1,894 coronavirus cases and 10 new deaths Thursday.
The latest fatalities include a Fort Worth man in his 80s, an Arlington woman in her 80s, two Arlington men in their 70s, a Fort Worth man and woman in their 70s, and a man and three women from Fort Worth in their 50s. Seven of the victims had underlying health problems.
The newly reported cases bring the county’s total to 105,675, including 93,592 confirmed cases, 12,083 probable cases and 74,266 recoveries. The death toll stands at 864.
According to Thursday’s numbers on the county dashboard, 884 people are hospitalized with the virus.
The state added 295 coronavirus cases to Collin County’s total Thursday, bringing the tally to 27,848. Five new COVID-19 fatalities also were reported.
The county’s death toll stood at 266.
According to state data, the county had 3,091 active cases and had recorded 24,757 recoveries.
COVID-19 hospitalizations totaled 306, according to the county’s dashboard.
Denton County reported 471 coronavirus cases — 335 of which are active cases — and four new deaths Thursday.
The latest fatalities include a Denton man in his 80s, a woman in her 80s who was a resident of Longmeadow Healthcare Center in Justin, a Corinth man in his 50s, and a man in his 60s who was a resident of Countryside Nursing and Rehabilitation in Pilot Point.
The newly reported cases bring the county’s total to 25,094, including 6,442 that are active and 18,500 that are recoveries. The death toll stands at 152.
There are 770 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, according to the county’s data.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has taken over reporting for these other North Texas counties. In some counties, new data may not be reported every day.
The latest numbers are:
- Rockwall County: 3,444 cases, 39 deaths.
- Kaufman County: 5,539 cases, 85 deaths.
- Ellis County: 7,755 cases, 118 deaths.
- Johnson County: 6,171 cases, 112 deaths.
Staff writers Erin Booke and Allie Morris contributed to this report.