Report projects Tarrant County COVID-19 hospitalizations could soon outpace Dallas
Masks are required in both Dallas and Tarrant. The capacity limits are the same in both countries. Tarrant County’s COVID-19 hospital stays could soon surpass Dallas County’s, according to a recent UT Southwestern.
To prevent cases, hospitalizations and deaths from increasing, UT Southwestern says joint measures must be put in place, including guidelines for physical distancing, hand hygiene and crowd management.
But if public health officials in both counties ask residents to follow these measures, what are the factors that contribute to the differences between counties?
In October Abbott shifted responsibility for bars to local officials, giving them the option to open watering holes, depending on the number of cases in their respective districts.
While Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins decided to keep the bars closed – or at least those that had not reopened as restaurants – Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley allowed the bars to reopen.
According to Dr. Rajesh R. Nandy, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Health Science Center’s School of Public Health, could have an impact.
“Bars are likely to contribute,” Nandy said of the spread of COVID-19 in Tarrant County.
Restaurants, Nandy said, diners likely dine with family or close friends, but places like bars and pubs have higher potential exposure to others.
“Bars are worse than food [in]”Said Nandy.” In a bar, you’re more likely to be around strangers. “
Even so, Nandy warned that bars are only one factor. After hospitals in North Texas reached a certain threshold for COVID-19 hospital stays in early December, bars were ordered to close in all counties in North Texas.
UT Southwestern Projects Tarrant County is expected to reach 2,400 new cases per day through Christmas, while Dallas County is expected to report 1,400 new cases, according to a report released Dec. 14.
As of Thursday, Tarrant County had reported 69 new cases per 100,000 population while Dallas County reported 61 cases per 100,000 population and Tarrant County’s trend is expected to increase.
However, since there can be delays in getting test results and then reporting new cases, Nandy says case numbers should be viewed with a grain of salt.
Interesting new updates from UTSW: Covid-19 hospital stays in Dallas County are expected to remain stable or even decrease through Christmas.
In Tarrant County they are projected to increase by 20%. pic.twitter.com/P5FxckNxai
– Jesus Jiménez (@jesus_jimz) December 14, 2020
“Case numbers aren’t as reliable in the short term,” Nandy said, adding that hospitalizations are a better indicator of how a county is doing.
While Dallas County’s COVID-19 hospital stays increased 2% in the past two weeks, Tarrant County’s hospital stays increased 11%, according to the UT Southwestern report.
Through Christmas, hospital stays in Dallas County are expected to remain stable or even decrease, while hospital stays in Tarrant County are expected to increase by 20% according to a model developed by UT Southwestern.
And when those trends don’t affect enough, Tarrant County is also running out of space to plant bodies. Last week, the county released portable body coolers in anticipation of an “increase in body counts” over the next six to eight weeks, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. (However, as of Tuesday, Dallas County still has 365 more COVID-19 deaths than Tarrant County.)
A spokesman for the Tarrant County magistrate did not respond to a request for comment on the story.
“The extra precaution”
State Health Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt, spoke to a Texas Senate committee last week about COVID-19 and urged Texans to continue wearing masks. ”
Whether masks alone will lower the summer tide can be difficult to measure. A statewide mask mandate went into effect on July 3, exactly a week after Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars across the state to be closed for the second time this year.
Although masking is critical to containing the spread of the virus, Nandy said it is difficult to prove that more people are wearing masks in one county than another.
“It’s very difficult to get really good data on compliance,” said Nandy, because most of that data is collected through self-reporting.
A mask is required to enter essentially any business location in Dallas and Tarrant counties. However, it’s hard to measure how well residents mask themselves beyond the shops.
Marissa Robinson was sitting in a chair under a tree in Klyde Warren Park last week, flipping through her cell phone wearing a black face mask. Only a handful of people were in the park that morning, and no one was within 6 feet of Robinson, but she was still wearing a black face mask.
For them, wearing a mask means their safety and the safety of others.
“Even though I’m outside, I’m still a little worried,” said Robinson. “I still want to take the extra precaution.”
Robinson has friends and family who caught the virus this year, but she said she has been wearing masks since the pandemic started and would wear one even if she doesn’t know anyone who has COVID-19.
Whenever she’s in town, Robinson feels like constantly seeing people disobeying masking rules in public.
Across town, The Woodlands’ Jaye Shelton spent part of his afternoon strolling downtown Fort Worth near Sundance Square for the past week.
Shelton was in town for the National Finals Rodeo in Arlington. Back at home at The Woodlands, Shelton said he noticed residents can be careless about masking, but Father South in Houston is being closely followed up on compliance.
During the Fort Worth weekend, he said that masking compliance compliance appeared to be largely in check, although Shelton noted that more people were comfortable taking off their masks outdoors at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
“It’s not a big deal,” Shelton said, wearing a mask of cattle as he looked at the square’s Christmas tree. “Just take the precautions and you’re done.”
People watch the opening night of the National Finals Rodeo in Arlington, Texas on Thursday, December 3, 2020. The event is usually held in Las Vegas but has been relocated to Arlington due to COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada. (Lynda M. González / The Dallas Morning News via AP)(Lynda M. González)
In addition to masking compliance, some data points, e.g. For example, measuring the frequency with which people set off is easier to obtain, as mobility data can be obtained from mobile phones via services such as Google.
For example, UT Southwestern uses Google Mobility Reports to determine the frequency of North Texans visiting retail stores, grocery shopping, going to parks, going to workplaces, and staying home.
Residents of the four most populous counties in North Texas – Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton – appear to be eye to eye as they leave their homes.
Nandy said it is especially important to take extra precautions when northern Texas enters the holiday season. Tarrant County has been getting worse lately, but he believes the two counties could soon even out, especially if too many people gather over Christmas and New Years
“We’re kind of on the edge,” said Nandy.