On July 14, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) added more than 3,000 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, bringing the total since March 2020 to more than 3 million.
There is concern that with the increased ability of the Alpha and Delta variants to spread more easily, the number of new cases may continue to increase. This is supported by recent trends showing an upward movement in the Positivity Index and hospitalizations both locally and statewide.
The positivity index measures the percentage of people who have been tested for the virus who have been confirmed to be infected. As of July 14, the most recent date for which state data is available, the Molecular Positivity Index had rebounded to 8.62% after a low of 2.81% hit on June 16. The rate of antigen positivity is also up, to 7.08% from a low of 2.05% on June 6.
Hospitalizations, meanwhile, fell from a low of 1,428 statewide on June 27 to 2,436 through July 13.
In TSA-E, of which Dallas-Fort Worth is a large part, hospitalizations fell to 289 on June 5 but have steadily increased since. As of Wednesday, 647 people were hospitalized at TSA-E with COVID-19. Over the past week, that number has increased to nearly 200 patients, according to state data.
Stephen Love, CEO and chairman of the DFW Hospital Council, said the number of patients rose to 700 on Thursday.
“What you need to know is that this is a 70% increase over the past two weeks,” Love said.
Love acknowledged that the number of North Texans hospitalized was not close to the 4,250 seen in January, but said a number of factors including people are more mobile now than in winter, many without masks. With the increased transmissibility of the variants and around 50% of the state still unvaccinated, there remains a concern for further increases in the spread of the virus.
In Tarrant County, the public health department has increased the level of spread in the community from moderate to substantial due to the increased positivity rate (which now exceeds 10% in Tarrant County for consecutive days) and the increase in the number of cases per 100,000 people.
“Tarrant County’s COVID-19 positivity rate has steadily increased for several weeks,” Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said on Thursday. “We are now at 12%, which is a significant increase from around 2% a month ago. “
In Dallas County, the positivity index was 5.3% on Wednesday. The county is showing a similar increase in hospitalizations seen elsewhere, however. After recording declines in May and June in emergency room visits and admissions, both again tend to increase in mid-July.
Dallas County health officials reported on Wednesday that about 86% of COVID-19 cases diagnosed during the week ending June 26 were in residents who were not fully vaccinated.
“This is where it shows it’s preventable now. We have the vaccine so readily available. You can get them at your local drugstore or grocery store, ”Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang said Thursday.
Taneja, Love and other health officials continue to encourage those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to get vaccinated.
“The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to get vaccinated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines,” Taneja said.
“I know you don’t want to be preached, and I know you have the right to make up your own mind, but please review the facts and don’t post your facts on social media. Look at the scientific facts. Make an informed decision and please get the vaccine, ”Love said. “This Delta variant is a lot more contagious than the original variant and now we even hear from Houston that they call it Delta-plus. It’s really another Delta variant mutation that has an extra protein, so now’s the time to get the shot. “
For more information on COVID-19 or an update on cases in your area, visit our COVID-19 tracker which visualizes case data from local and national health departments.
NBC 5’s Lili Zheng, Lizbeth Lincon and Brandi Smith contributed to this report.