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‘Cautiously optimistic’: COVID hospitalizations appear to plateau, DFW Hospital Council leader says

There have consistently been about 3,500 patients hospitalized daily with the coronavirus in the 19-county area that covers Dallas-Fort Worth, officials said.

Hospitalizations may be beginning to plateau in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the president and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council said Tuesday.

There have consistently been about 3,500 patients hospitalized daily with COVID-19 in the 19-county area that covers Dallas-Fort Worth, the council leader, Steve Love, said in an update with the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.

“It does appear that the cases may begin to come down in Dallas County, which means hospitalizations will hopefully come down in the short term,” Love said. “I define short term as probably 10 days to two weeks.”

Love said he was “catiously optimistic” there hadn’t been any large increases in hospitalizations over the last week — a difference from trends seen in the two to three weeks before.

But he said that though the region may plateau, individual counties may not follow the same timeline. Tarrant County, for example, may take more time before hospitalizations begin to level out, and Collin and Denton counties are still seeing regular fluctuations.

Last week, Love announced there was an all-time high of children hospitalized with the novel coronavirus.

He said that pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to be high in comparison with previous months but that the number of children who are severely ill with the virus continues to fluctuate.

“The pediatric population continues to show some slight increases, and then it’ll bump down, come back up,” he said. “In some counties, the pediatric [testing] positivity rate is as high as 25 to 26%.”

Love also gave an update on the out-of-state medical workers Gov. Greg Abbott deployed last month to help with surging COVID-19 cases. He said that about 60% of the promised health care workers have arrived and are working in Dallas-area hospitals but that the process is slow going because of required background screenings.

“That’s been a little bit of a bottleneck, but even with the 60% that we’re getting, we’re extremely appreciative because they supplement our existing staff,” Love said.

Health officials are still closely monitoring the potential effects the Labor Day holiday, college football games, the State Fair, in-person learning and other large gatherings will have on COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

He encouraged residents to continue to wear masks at large gatherings.

“Part of the reason that I read in the UT Southwestern report that they think Dallas County is improving is because they’re reflecting that more people are wearing masks,” Love said, referring to the institution’s most recent forecast that indicates cases and hospitalizations in Dallas County may be close to declining. “We know that masks work. It’s so important.”

Love urged residents to continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help protect children who aren’t eligible for shots yet.

“We’re hoping by late fall to have the vaccine, at least for Pfizer, be available for 5 and 6 years of age and older,” Love said. “But until then, we as adults have a responsibility to get vaccinated.”

He also said people should start planning to get an influenza vaccine as flu season approaches.

Connect with needs and opportunities from Get immediate access to organizations and people in the DFW area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.

Catherine Marfin, Breaking News Reporter. Catherine covers breaking news at The Dallas Morning News. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied journalism and public relations. While at UT, Catherine served as managing editor of The Daily Texan, UT's student paper, and interned at the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle.

catherine.marfin@dallasnews.com @catherinemarfin
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