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UT Southwestern expects Dallas County COVID hospitalizations to peak, continued rise in Tarrant County

UT Southwestern says more people in Dallas County are wearing masks and it has helped.

DALLAS — Some hopeful news for Dallas County on Labor Day: new modeling says Dallas County COVID hospitalizations are estimated to flatten out over the next couple weeks and then drop.

But in Tarrant County, where there is no mask requirement, it is different. Projections show a continued rise in Tarrant County COVID hospitalizations in the days ahead.

UT Southwestern releases COVID current analysis and forecasting for the D-FW region. The latest forecast says that hospital admission volumes are still high across North Texas. Nearly all positive test samples at UT Southwestern were confirmed with the delta variant, the report said.

The peak in hospitalizations will depend on if people in Dallas County continue the current level of behaviors, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and business restrictions, the report said. The trajectory for Tarrant County still shows a continued increase in hospitalizations.

“If you ask me like a week ago where I said I said we pretty dire we are accelerating at a very fast rate in terms of specially in hospitalizations," Dr. Mujeeb Basit, the associate director of the clinical informatics center at UT Southwestern said. "What we're seeing is more people are wearing masks. More people are socially distancing, and more people are getting vaccinated.”

Vaccinations per day in Texas have double since July and testing has tripled, which Basit says is an undervalued tool to control the pandemic, especially since those infected with the delta variant infect an average of five to nine other people if the infection isn't caught early. 

“Stopping the transmission of that one person, can you know a month from now impact potentially a lot of people," he said. "Even small differences in terms of mask wearing that may prevent that one person from getting infected has enormous benefit to society.”

Dr. Rajesh Nandy is a professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the UNT Health Science Center. His biggest concern is ICU staffing and available beds. He said a majority of the patients in ICU beds in Tarrant and Dallas counties are for COVID.

“When ICU occupancy gets to 100%... the patients who are getting admitted with COVID may not always get the best treatment that they need and [the treatment] that the hospital should otherwise provide,” Nandy said. “So that is my biggest concern is that people may die from COVID even though we know how to treat them."

“We've reached our ceiling. We can't go beyond that, really," Basit said. "You can't just look at the number of COVID patients in Texas. We're just at capacity. You have to look at how many people in Texas are getting infected with COVID and that gives you a hint of what's going to happen in the future.”

In Dallas County, UTSW expects roughly 1,100 new COVID infections per day by Sept. 23, the report said. In Tarrant County, UTSW expects roughly 1,300 new COVID infections per day by Sept. 23.

COVID remains a concern for young people too.

The latest data shows a dramatic rise in COVID cases among Texas public school students. The week of Aug. 8 ended with 1,273 cases among students. And case count has risen dramatically: the week of Aug. 29 ended with more than 27,000 cases among students.

With school underway, football stadiums packed, this weekend is especially important. Throughout the pandemic, Texas has seen spikes after holidays and now, kids are back in school.  

“It's not saying don't do anything and stay at home, but really think about the activities that you're going to do to try to reduce that interaction and keep your loved ones safe.”

Nandy says people must do their part to help slow the spread.

“Specifically for this weekend, if you had contact with a lot of people please get tested. That can help us a lot in controlling the spread,” Nandy said. “If we test and someone tests positive then we can isolate that individual early and that goes a long way in controlling the spread.”

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