Sunday, September 19, 2021

Denton County Health director’s COVID-19 update ‘a mixed bag’

Denton County hospital occupancy statistics, as of Tuesday, courtesy DCPH

The local public health director said Tuesday that COVID-19 remains dangerous, but there were a few “silver linings” in his presentation Tuesday at the Denton County Commissioners Court meeting.

“There is some reason to be hopeful,” said Denton County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Richardson.

Richardson said local hospitals are near capacity due to a large number of COVID-19 patients. About 89% of all Denton County hospital inpatient beds are occupied, and 28% of them are occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to DCPH data. All but one adult ICU beds are occupied, as hospitals continue to treat a growing number of patients despite staffing issues.

Active COVID-19 cases and deaths that are a direct result of COVID-19 continue to climb, according to DCPH data. DCPH reported four COVID-19 deaths last week — including residents of Double Oak, Corinth and Lewisville — and four COVID-19 deaths Monday.

“(COVID-19 is) still a very clear and present danger to our residents in Denton County,” Richardson said.

But it’s not all bad news, he said.

“The positivity rate in Texas is starting to plateau,” Richardson said. “That’s great news. We’re hoping for more people to be vaccinated. That is important.”

The active case count in Denton County, 14,372, is approaching the pandemic peak of 15,387 on Jan. 29. But Richardson said the data shows that Denton County’s positivity rate is trending down or plateauing for most age groups, except for children, and DCPH hopes that the active case count will also soon plateau.

“We just need to get these kids protected as quickly as possible,” he said.

It was an emotional Commissioners Court meeting, just one day after Roland Asebedo, Denton County’s Fire Marshal and Director of Development and Emergency Services, died from complications with COVID-19.

Vaccines are readily available at DCPH offices, doctor’s offices and pharmacies around the county, and Richardson urged residents to take advantage of their availability. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 70% of all eligible Denton County residents have received at least one vaccination dose and 62% of them are fully vaccinated. That’s up from 62% with one dose and 55% fully vaccinated in mid-July.

People with compromised immune systems who already got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can now get a third shot to boost their protection from COVID-19. DCPH has revised the Vaccine Interest Portal to allow individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for a third dose to register for upcoming DCPH vaccination clinics.

To minimize spread of COVID-19, DCPH urges all unvaccinated 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 are awaiting COVID-19 test results
  • If you are 12 years old or over, get your COVID-19 vaccine

If you are fully vaccinated, CDC recommends mask use in public indoor spaces.

If you are severely immunocompromised, consider an additional dose of mRNA vaccine after your initial two doses.

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 dentoncounty.gov/COVIDstats.

For information regarding DCPH’s upcoming testing centers, visit dentoncounty.gov/COVID19testing.

For additional COVID-19 health and safety recommendations, visit dentoncounty.gov/COVID19.

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

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