Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said yesterday that hospitalizations had jumped by 200 in North Texas, bringing the total to 923. That includes 19 counties throughout Dallas-Fort Worth as tracked by the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
The University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project says that only seven states (including Texas at 2,518) have more hospitalized patients than Dallas-Fort Worth due to COVID-19. State officials are not expressing worry just yet, as most hospitals have the capacity they need to treat patients. Hospitals also have the ability to add beds or convert them to ICUs if needed.
The hospitalization rate isn’t as shocking when population is considered. DFW’s population is greater than all but 10 states, but officials are worried about the rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations paired with the lack of best practices such as social distancing and mandating masks. DFW has more hospitalizations than any other region in Texas as well. Jenkins scheduled an emergency meeting for this morning to mandate that businesses require their customers to wear masks before entering.
But as numbers continue to climb, certain Texas cities are taking more precautions. This week, a Bexar County official required all businesses to enforce a mask wearing order, and Dallas County is looking to do the same. The order would punish businesses if individuals are not wearing masks in environments where social distancing is impossible.
“I’m asking the Commissioner’s Court to consider an order requiring masks at businesses here in Dallas County. Recent medical studies and the reports coming from them tell us that masks are the single most important tool we have to stop the spread and surge in cases and infections that we are seeing and keep our economy moving. You don’t need to wait on the government to wear a mask when on public transportation or at businesses,” Jenkins said via Twitter.
Dallas County’s 423 hospitalizations are more than half of the states reporting data, according to the tracker. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has been reporting hospital capacity, and reported that for the 25 hospitals surveyed in Dallas, 70 percent of the beds were occupied, 73 percent of the ICUs were occupied, and 35 percent of the ventilators were in use. Hospitals are mandated to keep 15 percent capacity for beds and ICUs during the pandemic to prepare for a surge, and hospital leaders say anything above 70 percent sounds an alarm.
Last week, Dallas County moved the disturbing league of national hotspots, one of the top five counties in the country for new cases. Governor Abbott has yet to mandate any statewide measures to combat the spread as he balances the economy with health concerns as counties and municipalities write to the governor to get him to do something or allow them to make moves of their own. Experts say the next few weeks are critical in re-flattening the rising curve.