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COVID-19 Patients Make Up One Quarter of All Hospitalizations in Dallas

State data say there are only 18 ICU beds available in Dallas County and just six in Tarrant County.
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Pause for Effects: Nurses regroup at the end of an all-night shift. Clements patients have had a low mortality rate, and staff members know they must always be alert. Even simple tasks like turning a patient over to ease breathing are fraught with danger. Elizabeth Lavin

The holiday season has not been merry and bright for the region’s COVID-19 numbers. State data says that 25.3 percent of all hospital capacity is being used by COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, there are only 18 intensive care unit beds available in Dallas County and just six in Tarrant County.

Earlier in the pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott said that further restrictions would be made if more than 15 percent of hospital patients were made up of COVID-19 patients, a line that was broken in several regions. Abbott then said that restrictions would occur if COVID-19 patients made up more than 15 percent of total hospital capacity. Texas broke its own record for hospitalizations this week, with 11,351 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, surpassing July’s highest total. COVID-19 patients currently occupy 17.8 percent of hospital beds across the state.

According to state data that measures only adult, staffed, ICU beds, the 19-county area that makes up the state’s Trauma Service Area E has 3,595 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Tuesday. That is a 349 person increase from the day before. Those patients make up more than a quarter of total hospital capacity in the region, smashing through the red line set by the governor. In the 19 counties that make up the area, there are just 56 total ICU beds available. In the service area, COVID-19 patients make up an astounding 48.2 percent of ICU patients. “This is a very serious and significant increase and we are approaching another holiday weekend,” Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council President and CEO Steve Love says.

Here are the ICU capacity totals for some of the largest counties in Trauma Service Area E.

County Remaining ICU Beds
Dallas 18
Tarrant 6
Collin 14
Denton 7
Kaufman 2
Wise 3
Other 6

The holiday season has also seen parts of Dallas County exceed its July peak in vulnerability, according to the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation. ZIP codes 75211 near Cockrell Hill, 75243 in Northeast Dallas, and 75228 in Far East Dallas are among the most vulnerable according to PCCI, with 75243 making a huge jump in vulnerability since the Thanksgiving holiday. The index combines pre-existing conditions, current COVID-19 cases, and mobility to measure the vulnerability of someone living in a certain area to the disease.

PCCI set its index against the July COVID-19 peak in Dallas County, meaning a score of 100 would be equal to the vulnerability experienced by Dallasites in the summer. But the vulnerability ratings in December might mean that a new scale needs to be created. ZIP code 75211’a vulnerability index score is 158, 75243 is at 121.1, and 75228 is 104.8. This means that residents living in these areas have never had a better chance at catching the disease. Officials say it could be months before the general public begins to be vaccinated, and nearly a year to achieve herd immunity.

“The jump over the past month for many ZIP codes above the prior July peak underscores the risk it presents as many celebrate the holidays. The key to keep in mind over the next few months is to maintain patience and diligence as the community begins vaccinations – continue social distancing, wearing masks, diligent hand washing, and other recommendations of public health authorities,” said Thomas Roderick, senior director of data and applied sciences at PCCI in a release.

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