By Ashley Moss
Mayor Johnson’s recommendation to Dallas residents on November 18th was simple: “Pass on this Thanksgiving so we can live to see the next one.”
The message represents concerns in the region ahead of the holiday as COVID-19 case counts, hospitalization rates and deaths continue to grow.
Since the start of the pandemic more than 113,764 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Dallas County as well as nearly 1,164 deaths. But after more than eight months of social distancing, economic distress, and mask mandates, the combined effort still has not stopped the spread.
With the city reporting that more than 80 percent of ICU beds are currently occupied as of November 18, the mayor feared the healthcare system might not be able to handle the increase.
“Our doctors and our nurses are overworked and they’re overburdened and our residents are increasingly at risk. The numbers simply aren’t good,” said the mayor. We haven’t hit the worst yet of this pandemic.The situation is serious and I’m imploring our residents of this great city to take this virus seriously.”
Officials from the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department recently noted that small social gatherings are one of the leading causes of coronavirus spread; area officials reported a 37 percent increase in cases for the week ending November 7.
“It is imperative to public health and our economy that we stop in-home get-togethers and trips to restaurants and bars that are largely responsible for this spike,” read a county report on November 16.
While there’s hope of a successful vaccine on the horizon, area public health officials agreed with the mayor’s sentiment. Dr. Kelvin Baggett, who’s been dubbed Dallas’ COVID czar, said the key to avoiding empty seats around the dinner table in 2021 is to continue following the guidance that’s been given since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We know what works based on previous public health experience,” said Dr. Baggett. “We have to continue to encourage mask wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene,” he said, before also recommending that local citizens reconsider their Thanksgiving plans.
“Use the technology that’s available,” he said. “If you really want to express love and concern, care, compassion and consideration this holiday season, at this time the best thing to do is to create distance,” he said.
“Let’s look forward to what the spring might look like,” he added. “And in doing so let’s look at what might preserve the lives that might not be around the table if we choose to go out and gather in our homes and elsewhere in the midst of this virus and a very deadly pandemic.”