Thursday, January 27, 2022

Health director: Omicron surging in Denton County

Denton County is in the middle of another surge of COVID-19, this time from the highly contagious variant Omicron, according to the local health director.

During Thursday’s Denton County Commissioners Court meeting, Denton County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Richardson said the Omicron variant “is indeed another surge, another wave in Denton County.” Hospitalizations are rising, and now one in five hospital patients have COVID-19, according to DCPH data. Denton County hospitals are now 88% occupied, and the ICUs are 95% occupied.

The test positivity rate is surging as well.

“This is an unprecedented, meteoric rise in positivity,” Richardson said, pointing to the 5% positivity rate on Halloween, 10% on Dec. 15 and 35% on Wednesday. “The Omicron wave is much, much different.”

For months, the Delta variant made up nearly 100% of all COVID-19 cases in the area, but in just a few weeks, Omicron is already the overwhelmingly dominant variant.

DCPH data also shows that cases are up across all age groups, particularly adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s, Richardson said. Older residents, however, are more likely to be vaccinated and boosted, and in those age groups, cases are rising much more slowly or not at all.

“Our older population seems to be well protected,” Richardson said. “I think there is room for improvement in our younger populations and prevention strategies.”

Take-home testing kits are hard (maybe impossible) to find in stores, and DCPH, local pharmacies, urgent care centers are offering limited COVID-19 testing appointments that get booked quickly.

Current quarantine guidance urges residents who are sick or test positive for COVID-19 to isolate at home for at least five days and to wear a well-fitting mask in public for five more days. If you’ve been exposed to a positive case and you are not vaccinated or boosted in the last six months, you should also quarantine at home for at least five days and get tested five days after exposure. If you’ve been exposed but have been vaccinated or boosted in the last six months, you should wear a mask in public and get tested five days after exposure.

Friday, Jan. 7

Active COVID-19 cases in Denton County are rising again. The number of active cases on Dec. 17 was 5,211, and on Friday, it’s 8,912. In those three weeks, the countywide COVID-19 death toll has also risen from 757 to 766, and it includes residents in their 40s and 50s.

“With this recent uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we hope community members will get vaccinated, as vaccination remains the best way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “Please take the recommended precautions to keep you and your family safe.”

DCPH only rules a resident’s death as a COVID-19 death if it is determined that the person died as a direct result of COVID-19. Actual dates of death can be released several days to several months after the fact, due to various reporting agencies and medical records review.

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

  • Get vaccinated and boosted when eligible
  • Wear well-fitting masks in public indoor settings
  • Test five days after exposure or if you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Isolate, quarantine, and wear a mask when recommended

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.

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

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