Monday, February 26, 2024

COVID-19 prevention is ‘hyper-critical’ this week, health director says

Denton County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Richardson told the county Commissioners Court on Tuesday that masks and physical distancing “couldn’t be more important than they are this week.”

In his weekly update to the court, Richardson discussed the lack of ICU bed availability and emergency rooms being overrun with coronavirus patients, and said that there has been “no more important time than this week” to reduce risk of exposure. As of Tuesday, 97% of ICU beds in Denton County were occupied, and nearly half of them were occupied by people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“It is, in fact, a tipping point, I think, for COVID-19 transmission,” Richardson said. “We need to do all we can to prevent further transmission … We need to focus on prevention.”

The surge of COVID-19 that began after Halloween seems to be slowing down a bit in the past week or two, but transmission is still high and the risk is still there, Richardson said. There are currently 13,495 active cases in the county, and the death toll remains at 237.

Richardson also discussed vaccine allocation. About 56,000 residents have signed up for the county waitlist for COVID-19 vaccine doses, but the supply is not going to meet demand anytime soon.

“In a challenging situation, Denton County residents have embraced the opportunity for a COVID-19 vaccine,” Richardson said in a statement. “We’re working hard to meet the demand with the doses we’re given.  This effort is our path to life as we knew it – and the path to ‘herd immunity’ that we so desperately need to protect our families and friends.”

To minimize spread of COVID-19, DCPH urges all community members to:

  • Maintain at least six feet of physical distance in public settings and when around individuals outside of the household
  • Wear masks or face coverings, which should cover both the nose and mouth, in public settings and when around individuals outside of the household
  • Wash and/or sanitize hands frequently
  • Stay home if you are symptomatic, have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19, or have pending COVID-19 lab results

Click here for more information about COVID-19 vaccines in Denton County. For additional COVID-19 data including active case information by municipality, hospital capacity, and ventilator utilization, visit For information regarding DCPH’s upcoming testing centers, visit For additional COVID-19 health and safety recommendations, visit

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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