Dallas County health authorities have actually reported a downward trend of COVID-19 cases and deaths this month after a peak of at least 1,000 cases each day for more than 2 weeks in mid-July.
However Dallas Countys improvement isnt being duplicated throughout the state. As an entire, Texas has yet to experience a consistent decline in cases, and deaths are still rising statewide.
The relatively conflicting numbers raise concerns about whether both trends are possible as the variety of Texans looking for COVID-19 tests drops and health professionals stress people must continue wearing masks and social distancing.
Heres what you need to know.
Why do not Dallas trends match the rest of the state?
Health professionals state its possible for some areas to enhance during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if the total state is not.
This is specifically true in a state as massive as Texas, stated Dr. Mark Casanova, president of the Dallas County Medical Society.
” Large metropolitan areas are sort of affected disproportionately at first, and then you get spread into the distant neighborhoods,” he stated. “You certainly see that in North Texas … everybody throughout the state is on a slightly different clock.”
Health professionals credit the regional pattern of less cases to compliance with social distancing and mask mandates, which entered into result in Dallas County in June, before the statewide order. The county saw a minor uptick in brand-new cases this week after a number of weeks of lower numbers.
” We believe that our neighborhood has actually reacted well to the universal masking, the closing of the bars,” stated Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas Countys health director.
Is Dallas truly doing better?
Health professionals state the decline in Dallas Countys cases appears to reveal what is truly happening here with COVID-19 cases. The county would likely see a rise in hospitalizations if the number of cases was actually on the rise. Right now, that isnt occurring.
” Working with the modelers, looking at medical facility data, taking a look at all these signs, theyre constant,” Huang said. “We are seeing definitely positive indications from that.”
Through Friday, Dallas County had an average this week of a minimum of 497 day-to-day cases. The countys daily average of new cases was up to 463 last week, below 654 cases the previous week and 827 the week prior to that.
Health experts acknowledge that throughout the state, altering screening technology, differing testing approaches and quickly progressing understanding about the infection creates constraints to COVID-19 information.
In Dallas County, COVID-19 deaths and cases can vary substantially from day to day, mainly due to reporting lags, raising concerns about the reliability of current trends.
Health specialists state a look at longer-term data gives a more clear picture of how the county is faring. Even with the ups and downs, in general the county is trending in the best direction: downward.
Given that the virus can spread relatively rapidly once someone becomes sick, seven-day averages are utilized to examine daily case patterns, Casanova stated. But hospitalizations and deaths should be evaluated utilizing 14- or perhaps 21-day averages, as severe cases of the disease can last weeks.
The countys seven-day daily case average has declined since mid-July, while the 14-day average for deaths has actually slightly decreased since earlier this month.
Thats why the overall trends are stated to be heading the in the right direction, even though there have actually been several days in current weeks where the county reports deaths in the double-digits even as it reports fewer cases.
” A 50-year-old in a hospital undergoing extensive care, its not implausible that individual was in the medical facility for five, six weeks, sometimes even longer,” Casanova said.
Casanova stated that when Dallas County had two weeks of at least 1,000 cases a day, individuals asked why there werent numerous deaths.
” Our remark was, unfortunately, Just wait,” he said.
Slowing transmission in Dallas County
County health authorities have actually likewise revealed cautious optimism about the local reproductive number, or the variety of transmissions that result from each infection. A number listed below 1 implies cases are going down. A number above 1 means cases are increasing.
At a news conference Thursday, County Judge Clay Jenkins said the existing reproductive number is 0.87. Huang said that, based on data from Parkland Hospital, the reproductive number in the community has been listed below one considering that after July 4.
Thats somewhat lower than some present price quotes for the statewide reproductive number, which has actually been approximated this week to be about 1.2 by Statista and as high as 1.3 by the site Rt.live, which approximates reproductive numbers by state based upon data from the COVID Tracking Project.
But Jenkins cautioned Thursday that the countys reproductive number can quickly alter, and was even lower, at 0.68, 10 days previously.
” All these numbers– hospitalizations, infections– move down gradually and up rapidly,” Jenkins stated. “But similar to the stock exchange, you cant look at a one- or 2- or three-day relocation, one instructions or the other, and check out much into it. Youve got to look at it on a two-week and weekly basis.”
Positive test rate
Likewise, the county is usually faring better than the state when it comes to the positivity rates of COVID-19 tests. While a rate for all county testing websites is not available due to evaluating constraints, Jenkins said the rate was simply under 16% for all the countys health centers.
Statewide, computer system changes had just recently caused the variety of overall tests and the variety of favorable results to come in at various times, which inflated the proportion of tests counted as positive, state health department spokesperson Lara Anton stated.
The states estimated average was at a record high of 24.5% on Thursday. Dipped down again the next day, to 16.1%. The state is working to reconcile the data and hopes to have the concern cleaned up by next week.
Even a 16% rate is still much greater than the 5% positivity rate the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated shows appropriate testing, Jenkins stated.
” If the positivity rate is high, it worries you that individuals that youre checking are only the sickest people, which youre missing a great deal of people,” Jenkins said.
Why are fewer people getting checked?
Huang has revealed bookings about the reliability of the positivity rate, since complete data for the number of trial run each day can be challenging to compile, both at the county and state levels.
However he stated the improving scenario in the county is likewise backed up by the lower demand for tests. The county stated this week that there was a 40% decrease in requests for tests at the city and county sites, which havent reached screening capacity in several days.
” I dont believe its simply that people are tired of tests,” Huang said. “I think that the masking is decreasing transmission and fewer people are symptomatic.”
Health professionals: Keep taking precautions
Other health professionals are worried that the decreased need for tests– a pattern that has actually been seen at community test sites throughout the state just recently– is due, in part, to an incorrect sense of security that improving numbers may develop.
Statewide, the seven-day average for COVID-19 cases fell from July 20 to Aug. 1 before jumping back up once again, then decreasing once again a few days later. Statewide deaths have not experienced any decrease. Texas, as a whole, hasnt seen the constant downward pattern Dallas County is experiencing.
Health experts stated they fear that because the drop-off in tests accompanies an ebb and circulation of cases, individuals will become less diligent about masking and following illness prevention guidelines.
In Dallas County, health specialists warn that the down trend does not imply the county remains in the clear. Even with the decreasing number of cases, the total numbers are still much higher than they were prior to the stay-at-home orders began to be lifted, Jenkins has actually stated.
Casanova said while it is essential to celebrate the positive trend, the information is strong proof that locals require to continue prevention efforts like masks and social distancing.
” My ICU coworkers, my infectious-disease pals, we do not control the private and public choices that are made on a whole to control [the break out],” Casanova said. “Were in this together, however the general public can make this occur. Well do our damnedest to save as lots of lives as possible, and do all that we can with as much as we can for as long as we can once they enter our healthcare facilities. But a lot of this is in the hands of the public.”
Personnel writer Sue Ambrose added to this report.
Health experts state the decrease in Dallas Countys cases appears to reveal what is really happening here with COVID-19 cases. If the number of cases was really on the increase, the county would likely see a rise in hospitalizations. County health officials have also revealed mindful optimism about the regional reproductive number, or the number of transmissions that result from each infection. A number listed below 1 indicates cases are going down. Texas, as an entire, hasnt seen the constant down pattern Dallas County is experiencing.