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New cases rise as Dallas County confirms 2 variants locally



DALLAS, TX – The number of new coronavirus cases in Dallas County rose over the last week, and officials confirmed the county has seen new cases of the B.1.1.7 and B.1.526 variants of COVID-19 over the last two weeks.

New cases of the virus totaled 351 on March 11. The seven-day average now sits at 457, which is a rate of 17.3 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a county news release. The seven-day average at this time last week was 230, which is a rate of 8.7 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

Dallas County’s seven-day average of 457 new coronavirus cases per day on March 11 was nearly a 99% increase from the previous seven days.“The more contagious variants [of COVID-19] have arrived here in Dallas County,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “The person diagnosed with the B.1.526 variant did not have a history of travel outside of Dallas County. It is likely that many others with milder symptoms, who were not tested, are transmitting these more contagious variants.”

There have been 248,724 cases and 3,236 deaths in Dallas County since officials began data collection in March 2020. About 22% of deaths countywide have been associated with long-term care facilities.

Hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and emergency room visits are among the key indicators health experts use to determine the severity of the virus’s spread, according to the county. The week ending March 10 saw 268 COVID-19 patients in acute care and 396 patients reporting to the emergency room with COVID-19-like symptoms. This number represents about 15% of the total emergency room visits in the county during that time period, according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.Gov. Greg Abbott lifted state mask requirements March 10 and said all businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity.

Since early January, when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations peaked across the state, numbers have been steadily declining.

According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 4,406 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals as of March 11, down from more than 5,000 on March 4. Abbott said March 2 that “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.” However, if COVID-19 hospitalizations do rise above a certain level—15% of all hospitalizations within a certain region—county judges will be able to take action. Abbott said county judges will be able to reduce business capacity to no lower than 50%.

As of March 10, less than 6% of the hospital beds in Trauma Service Area E were occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to the DSHS dashboard.