Monday, January 17, 2022

Denton County’s COVID-19 cases rising fast

The Omicron variant surge is ripping through Denton County, as the active case count rose by about 6,000 in just one week, according to Denton County Public Health data.

There are now 15,948 active cases confirmed in the county as of Friday, according to DCPH data, up from 8,912 one week ago. This week had, by far, the most reported new cases of any week of the pandemic, quickly bringing the active case count back up near the peak of the Delta variant wave, which reached 16,346 active cases on Oct. 1.

This surge has forced local schools to close because they had so many students, teachers and staff out because of COVID-19 illness or exposure.

DCPH Director Dr. Matt Richardson said this week that hospitals are reporting that ICU beds are harder to staff, up to 20% of their existing staff members have been absent, and a rising number of patients are requiring a ventilator. Richardson said this surge is negatively affecting all hospital patients, not just those with COVID-19.

“I think one of the most alarming things on hospital capacity that has happened with every wave, and is now happening with Omicron, is what they call an ‘ER hold,’” Richardson said. “It’s when you go to the emergency room and there’s no inpatient bed for you. Many of our hospitals are experiencing ER holds, some are (up to) double-digit hours in the ER waiting for a staffed bed.”

According to DCPH data on Tuesday, about 87% of the nearly 800 inpatient beds in the county are occupied, and 94% of 96 staffed ICU beds are occupied.

Richardson said the concerning trend of Omicron and its impacts on hospitals show the importance of getting vaccinated or boosted and staying home when you’re sick.

COVID-19 tests are still hard to find. At-home tests are sold out at local pharmacies, and appointments for tests administered at pharmacies, DCPH and urgent care centers are also hard to come by.

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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