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'It's a scary picture': Denton's public health director says county's Omicron surge is concerning

Denton County added 411 new COVID cases Wednesday, a 75% increase from the previous day.

DENTON COUNTY, Texas — The lines to get a COVID test at a fully-booked site along S. Loop 288 in Denton are a sign that another COVID surge is upon us.

Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson told WFAA the county’s current trend is concerning.

“We’re trending the wrong direction again,” Richardson said. “We’re going uphill on the roller coaster instead of down.”

Like many counties across the U.S., Denton’s cases are increasing by the day.

Wednesday, DCPH reported 411 new cases, an increase of 75% from Tuesday, when the county reported 233 new cases.

“We have no reason to believe that these cases will decline or decrease when we look at other counties and states around us,” Richardson said. “It might not be as severe, our trend upward might not be as steep, but we think it’s there, and we don’t think we’re at the top.”

As of Wednesday, DCPH reported 5,851 active COVID cases. Nearly 15% of everyone hospitalized in the county has COVID, according to data from DCPH.

“It’s a scary picture,” Richardson said. "We’re trending up, we have more and more COVID cases in hospitals, more staff infected, which is lowering that hospital’s availability to respond.”

On Wednesday, Eva Delafuente was tested for COVID at a DCPH drive-thru site along S. Loop 288. She told WFAA that she tried to get a rapid test, but couldn’t find one nearby.

She came into close contact with someone who was COVID positive on Christmas Eve, so she rushed to get a PCR test.

“My father is critically ill, and I can’t visit him until I get a clearance,” Delafuente said.

Although she had an appointment for her test, she’ll have to wait at least 48 hours for results.

Richardson said the county is expanding testing availability, but with demand so high after the holidays, it’s a challenge.

“It really appears that in Texas, the providers that are doing tests are pretty much maxed out,” Richardson said.

That’s not the only problem. Richardson said infusion treatment centers in the county are in a moment-by-moment situation when it comes to availability.

Dede Hicks, a resident of Argyle in Denton County, said she and her family tested positive for COVID after Christmas.

“I thought it was allergies, and then I just started having chills,” Hicks said.

Hicks, who is unvaccinated, told WFAA that the emergency room she went to didn’t have an antibody infusion available. She’s still waiting for one to arrive.

Richardson said he hopes the current surge won’t be as severe as previous ones.

“It’s time to be vaccinated, and now it’s time for everyone to be boosted…without exception,” Richardson said. “It’s truly the only way to intervene in this type of outbreak situation.”

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