Hospitalizations for coronavirus could drop 40% in Dallas and Tarrant counties in the coming weeks, according to a new forecast.
By Tom Steele
Getting vaccinated may have saved the lives of 3,600 Texas seniors, according to a new federal study.
A report by the Department of Health and Human Services also estimates that vaccinations were linked to a reduction of 24,000 coronavirus infections among Medicare beneficiaries from January to May — as the vaccines became more widely available — as well as 9,700 fewer hospitalizations for the virus.
Nationally, the department’s researchers said, there were 265,000 fewer infections, 107,000 fewer hospitalizations and 39,000 fewer deaths during that period because of vaccinations.
“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations and reduce infection,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a written statement.
The HHS numbers for Texas were provided to The Dallas Morning News ahead of the release of the full report Tuesday.
COVID-19 has been disproportionately deadly among seniors. In Texas, more than 43,000 coronavirus deaths — about two-thirds of the state’s total during the pandemic — have been among people 65 and older.
But older people, who were among the first to be eligible for vaccines, have been vaccinated at a higher rate than other age groups. Just under 80% of Texas seniors are fully vaccinated against the virus vs. 62% of all eligible Texans.
The HHS study found that as vaccinations ramped up in the first part of the year, a 10% increase in county vaccination rates among Medicare beneficiaries led to a decrease in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths of 11% to 12%.
In North Texas, severe cases of COVID-19 are expected to continue their decline from the current wave’s peak in early September.
The latest forecast from UT Southwestern Medical Center predicts that hospitalizations will fall to about 380 in Dallas County, and about 450 in Tarrant County, by Oct. 21. Both decreases would put hospitalizations about 40% below the current patient levels.
New admissions for coronavirus patients are dropping across age groups and counties, UTSW’s forecast says, though they are still higher than during most of the pandemic. The hospital noted that people who aren’t vaccinated are still very much at risk from the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, which is accounting for nearly all positive tests at UT Southwestern.
“The numbers have gone down slightly, but the numbers remain high,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a written statement.
Underscoring the potential for long-lasting effects from COVID-19, Jenkins said he recently spoke to nurses at Parkland Memorial Hospital who said several dozens of patients who no longer had the virus remain in critical or intensive care and need assistance breathing as they recover from the damage caused by the virus.
In addition to getting vaccinated, health experts say, residents should continue to follow masking guidelines to prevent spreading the coronavirus and other respiratory diseases. The number of people in the region who say they are wearing masks in public has recently started to decrease again after climbing for several months, according to UTSW.
Dallas County reported 65 more COVID-19 deaths and 5,858 new coronavirus cases in the past week.
Of the new cases, 4,817 were confirmed and 1,041 were probable. The numbers bring the county’s overall case total to 390,109, including 331,812 confirmed and 58,297 probable. The death toll is 4,686.
The average number of new daily cases in the county for the last two weeks is 950. For the previous 14-day period, the average was 1,390.
The county reported that 655 people were hospitalized with the virus.
According to the state, 1,565,890 people in Dallas County have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 1,336,590 — 61.3% of the county’s population 12 and older — are fully vaccinated.
The state reported 63,574 more cases in the past week, including 49,719 confirmed cases and 13,855 probable cases.
The state also reported 1,804 COVID-19 deaths over the past week, raising its toll to 64,785.
The state’s case total is now 4,071,599, including 3,397,223 confirmed and 674,376 probable.
There are a total of 7,934 hospitalizations in the state, including 2,312 in North Texas.
According to the state, 17,342,647 people in Texas have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 14,946,236 — 62.1% of the state’s population 12 and older — are fully vaccinated.
Tarrant County reported 116 deaths and 5,372 cases in the past week.
Of the new cases, 4,345 were confirmed and 1,027 were probable. The numbers bring the county’s case total to 348,797, including 289,463 confirmed and 59,334 probable. The death toll is 4,352.
The county reported that 773 people were hospitalized with the virus.
According to the state, 1,164,156 people in Tarrant County have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 1,025,318 — 59.0% of the county’s population 12 and older — are fully vaccinated.
The state added 31 deaths and 2,020 cases to Collin County’s totals in the past week.
Of the new cases, 1,363 were confirmed and 657 were probable. The numbers bring the county’s case total to 125,057, including 102,033 confirmed and 23,024 probable. The death toll is 1,036.
The county reported that 277 people were hospitalized with the virus.
According to the state, 681,967 people in Collin County have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 608,168 — 70.3% of the county’s population 12 and older — are fully vaccinated.
Denton County reported eight deaths and 2,200 cases in the past week.
The numbers bring the county’s case total to 101,775, including 74,115 confirmed and 27,660 probable. The death toll is 695.
The county reported that 135 people were hospitalized with the virus.
According to the state, 535,153 people in Denton County have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 482,744 — 64.3% of the county’s population 12 and older — are fully vaccinated.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has taken over reporting for these other North Texas counties. In some counties, new data may not be reported every day.
The latest numbers are:
- Rockwall County: 16,832 cases (13,136 confirmed and 3,696 probable), 204 deaths.
- Kaufman County: 22,819 cases (18,397 confirmed and 4,422 probable), 381 deaths.
- Ellis County: 31,652 cases (25,310 confirmed and 6,342 probable), 411 deaths.
- Johnson County: 26,560 cases (21,721 confirmed and 4,839 probable), 488 deaths.