Dallas County moves COVID-19 threat to red — ‘high risk’ of community transmission

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Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced late Tuesday that the county has increased its COVID-19 threat level to red, in response to the “frightening trajectory” of cases.

Jenkins announced the change on Twitter shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, saying the county’s Public Health Committee had voted unanimously to increase the threat level to red, meaning there is a high risk of community transmission.

Residents should stay home and only travel for essential needs, according to Dallas County’s guidelines for the red level — the highest of its color-coded threat assessment system.

The change comes as cases and hospitalizations soar, alongside the prominence of the more-contagious delta variant of coronavirus. The county moved its threat level up from yellow to orange on July 23, citing the rising metrics during that change as well.

The last time the county was at the red threat level was in March. It was then lowered to orange in late-March and down to yellow in mid-June — which was the lowest level it had been in since last year.

Though the red level represents shelter-in-place orders and the county recommends wearing a face covering, it is undermined by a sweeping executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott Friday that bans government entities from enacting vaccine or mask mandates.

In a written statement, Jenkins noted the rising numbers of cases and hospitalizations of children and those in long-term care settings.

“Dallas County and Texas substantially lag national averages for vaccination rates,” Jenkins said in a tweet Tuesday night.

According to the state, 1,360,582 people in Dallas County have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Tuesday, while 1,146,489 — 52.6% of the county’s eligible population 12 and older — are fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Dallas County reported a three-day total of five COVID-19 deaths and 2,132 new coronavirus cases.

Of the new cases, 1,949 were confirmed and 183 were probable. The numbers bring the county’s overall case total to 319,839, including 274,149 confirmed and 45,690 probable. The death toll is 4,211.

The average number of new daily cases in the county for the last two weeks is 651 — more than double the previous 14-day average of 263. This is the highest two-week average the county has seen since Feb. 21.

The rising case levels are projected to continue climbing to levels not seen since previous surges of the pandemic, according to a forecast from the UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The model predicts that Dallas County will see at least 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day by Aug. 19, according to data as of last Thursday.

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