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'Same pattern': Dallas County officials urge compliance as cases, hospitalizations climb near July numbers

More than 69,000 people have contracted coronavirus since Tarrant County began tracking in March.
Credit: AP
In this Aug. 8, 2020, photo face masks hang from an IV pole at a hospital in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

This story will be updated throughout the day as new information is released.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins urged people to keep Thanksgiving gatherings to only a person's household and to keep social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowds during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Hospitalizations are now at 94% of the peak that North Texas had in July, health director Dr. Philip Huang said.

"This is showing the same pattern," Huang said. "This is the hospital occupancy and hospitalizations jumped dramatically."

Jenkins said he's been in regular contact with his counterpart in the current COVID-19 hotspot El Paso, where a two-week stay-at-home order is in place.

"We do not want to be where they are," Jenkins said.

The county reported 808 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and two additional deaths. The county had seen the three prior days with more than 1,200 cases.

Dallas County:
Nov. 11: 1,304 new cases
Nov. 10: 1,267 new cases
Nov. 9: 1,248 new cases
Nov. 8: 848 new cases
Nov. 7: 876 new cases
Nov. 6: 1,276 new cases
Nov. 5: 868 new cases

County officials said nearly 600 patients were reported in area hospitals for the period ending on Wednesday. In addition to the increase in hospitalizations, officials said more people are visiting the emergency room for coronavirus-related symptoms.

Only seven patients in Dallas County have been transferred from El Paso, Jenkins said. Hospitalizations are growing in Dallas County and the issue is having enough hospital beds that are staffed, Jenkins said.

Wear a mask for "the health care workers who are exhausted," Jenkins said. "Our medical heroes have been working nonstop for nine months and they need our help."

He urged businesses to let workers who are able to telecommute.

For Thanksgiving, he also said people should only gather with people who are in their households, avoid crowds and not go to Black Friday shopping until "we get this back under control."

There are people who are in quarantine for two weeks ahead of Thanksgiving to see family members, but that's not foolproof, Jenkins said. He said a negative test only reflects a person's status for the day of the test.

Doctors are "strongly, strongly urging you to just celebrate with the folks that we live with," Jenkins said.

Of the new cases in the county, 411 of the cases are confirmed and 397 are probable.

According to Jenkins, about 20% of all emergency department visits in the county were related to COVID-19.

"As our numbers grow, our hospitals are filling & our healthcare heroes are stretched & exhausted. It’s important for people to remember that the healthcare safety net is more than beds, but includes people & over the last 9 months our people have been worked to new extremes," Jenkins said.

Local health officials continue to urge residents to stay home as much as possible ahead of the upcoming holidays.

Tarrant County reports 7 new deaths, 26 more hospitalized patients

Seven more people in Tarrant County have died from COVID-19, officials announced Thursday. A total of 784 people have died since tracking began in March.

The latest victims to die range from a Fort Worth woman in her 40s to a Fort Worth woman in her 90s. All of the victims had underlying health conditions, officials said.

In addition to new deaths announced, there are 26 more patients hospitalized because of coronavirus. According to the county’s public dashboard, there are currently 699 patients in area hospitals compared to 673 reported Wednesday.

Health officials also reported 1,191 new cases, meaning more than 69,000 Tarrant County residents have contracted coronavirus.

Cook Children’s to only allow 1 visitor per patient

Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth is changing its inpatient visitor policy due to to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Beginning at 5 a.m. Monday only one primary caregiver will be allowed per patient. This means siblings and other people are not allowed to visit. 

The one-person visitation policy originally went into effect in March after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in North Texas. 

Last month, the hospital had announced it would allow two caregivers to visit. However, on Thursday officials said due to the substantial community spread of the virus, they are reverting to their original policy.

"We know these measures greatly impact our patient families and mean missed moments between parents and children," said Stan Davis, Chief Operating Officer at Cook Children’s.

The hospital says it is currently experiencing the highest number of infected children on a daily basis since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

According to officials, the seven-day rolling positivity rate is 8.3%, up from an average of 5% seen in recent months. 

“This decision was not made lightly and was determined to be necessary given the circumstances surrounding the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our community," Davis said. 

Gov. Abbott sends additional COVID-19 resources to El Paso, Lubbock 

Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced Thursday that additional COVID-19 resources will be deployed to El Paso and Lubbock. 

The resources include medical personnel, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, mobile testing sites, and more.

Additional medical personnel has also been sent to the Panhandle and South Plains to assist area hospitals.

Last week, three U.S. Air Force Medical Specialty Teams were deployed to assist area hospitals in El Paso.

Digital producers Jozelyn Escobedo and Eline de Bruijn contributed to this report.

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