With Tuesday’s daily caseload of 734 new coronavirus infections, Dallas County has seen its first sub-1,000 case day in nearly three weeks. This is the first time in 18 days that we haven’t added four digits worth of new COVID-19 cases. It follows a 6-day plateau in infections and hospitalizations.
County Judge Clay Jenkins obviously would not call it a trend, but said it is “an encouraging data point.” There was concern about a possible jump in cases two weeks after the July 4 holiday, especially after GPS data showed increased movement compared to Memorial Day. That was the last time we saw a big jump in COVID-19 cases, fueling concern about hospital capacity.
But there wasn’t a statewide mask mandate then. Modeling from both the University of North Texas Health Science Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center has shown that the virus’ replication rate has dropped since the mask order went into effect. And looked at as a whole, people are generally traveling less.
“A reversal in the trend is quite apparent in both Dallas and Tarrant counties in the expected timeframe based on mask mandate,” reads the UNT Health Science Center’s report. “The same trend is visible in the raw daily hospitalization and ER visits data for suspected COVID patients.”
Since July 6, when Dallas hit a new high of 1,214 cases, we’ve essentially plateaued at around 1,000 daily cases. Now we’ve seen a single day sharp drop. Hospitalizations have also slowed their ascent. Dallas County’s hospitals have added just 100 more people since July 10, a 6.5 percent 10 day increase from 1,666 patients to 1,775. From July 1 through July 10, the county saw a 36 percent increase, leaping from 1,211 to 1,666. (The data is from the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council, which collects it from hospitals and submits it to the state.)
All of this is good news, but it’s important to stay vigilant. Wear your mask and stay six feet from others. It takes about two weeks after exposure for new infections to show up on the county’s case count.
“To ensure healthcare capacity remains available,” reads UTSW’s model, “the community’s continued compliance with physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene, and crowd management policies are needed.”