Thursday, December 2, 2021

Deaths from delta strain differ from previous COVID-19 surge

A recent surge of COVID-19 deaths reported by Denton County Public Health is noticeably different from the COVID-19 surge during the winter, DCPH Director Dr. Matt Richardson said Tuesday.

During his weekly presentation at the Denton County Commissioners Court meeting, Richardson pointed out that the delta variant — which surged this summer — has proven to be more dangerous to younger people than the previous surge back in January and February.

“(The winter surge) very much took the older, our senior populations were more vulnerable and we had massive losses,” Richardson said. “That’s not the case with delta. We’ve had fewer deaths, but they’ve been across the board across age groups.”

Active COVID-19 cases in Denton County are continuing to decline — dipping to 8,383 on Friday, down from 16,346 on Oct. 1 — an encouraging trend. Concurrently, Denton County hospitals are getting some breathing room, as their ICUs have been full or nearly full for months but their occupancies are starting to come down a bit.

DCPH investigates COVID-19 deaths and reports them — usually a couple weeks or months after the patient died — once they’ve confirmed that the patient died as a result of COVID-19, as opposed to having the virus but dying primarily of a different reason. So, even though active cases have been coming down since about a month ago, DCPH has reported 31 deaths in the last 16 days.

The data shows that the delta variant remains the overwhelming majority of new COVID-19 cases in Denton County, which Richardson said is good news because the vaccines are efficacious against the delta variant and it means it isn’t mutating into a more dangerous variant.

Out of 29,000 Texans who have died of COVID-related illnesses since mid-January, only 8% of them were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to new data released Monday by the Texas Department of State Health Services. About 85% of cases and deaths in Texas in that timespan were made up of unvaccinated patients. In September, COVID-19 patients in their 40s who were not vaccinated were 55 times more likely to die, as opposed to vaccinated patients.

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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