The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated parts of North Texas as “high-risk” for COVID-19 transmission, placing three counties in the “red” category, even as important metrics like hospitalizations and fatalities remain relatively low.
Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin Counties received the upgraded designations last week.
Denton County remains in “yellow,” which calls for only those at high risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 to wear masks indoors.
However, “red” CDC protocols recommend all people mask up indoors, get tested for COVID-19 at the onset of symptoms, and “stay up to date on COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.”
Two new subvariants of the COVID-19 Omicron variant are overtaking older iterations of the virus. While seemingly more infectious, subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 do not appear to be any more dangerous than Omicron, according to YaleMedicine.
“I think my concern level is greater than zero. But you know, on a scale of one to 10, it’s not even close to five at this point,” stated Dr. Joseph Chang, chief medical officer at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, speaking with NBC 5.
He added, “I do not believe that we’re going to have the same situation that we had with omicron and delta, and certainly not to the severity of disease that we saw. Now, we might see people get sick and they might have to stay home. But the severity is probably not going to be anywhere near what we saw before.”
Still, medical researchers and healthcare workers expect a “steep rise” in older patients in the coming weeks, per NBC 5.
As of July 15, Dallas County registered zero deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the previous week and clocked a daily average of roughly 570 cases.
Collin County does not post daily case count statistics, but 650 new cases were documented on July 11, according to WFAA. No COVID-related deaths were reported in the past week.
For its part, Denton County public health officials tweeted county COVID statistics for the week beginning July 9 and ending July 15, registering zero deaths and clocking roughly 430 daily cases.
Hospitalizations are increasing across the board in all four counties, but not in such numbers or at a rate that could potentially overwhelm healthcare systems.
“I would call it a wave. I would not classify this as a surge because we’re running around 705-710 people daily in our hospitals with COVID,” stated Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council President and CEO Stephen Love, speaking with CBS News.
He later added, “So we want people to be particularly careful. [We’re] not trying to panic them, not trying to scare people, but just make them aware that this virus [spread] continues to grow.”