Dallas County avoids post-holiday spike in coronavirus cases, health director says

Dallas County has remained steady with new cases over the past few weeks.

The expected post Labor Day bump did not show up. But as restaurants and retail increase capacity and more students go back to school, the county's health director has seen some concerning new trends.

Dallas County Health Director Dr. Philip Huang says, so far, new cases and hospitalizations remain flat. But there is a growing concern about clusters of new cases among young people.

This month in Dallas County, some students returned to in-person classes, and many people celebrated with their friends and loved ones during Labor Day weekend.

But so far, this doesn’t look like a repeat of the major spike in cases in the weeks after Memorial Day. What’s different this time is bars remained closed and masks are still required.

New cases and hospitalizations are flat at a time where students are returning to school and restaurants and retail stores are allowed to increase capacity to 75%. But Dr. Huang says he’s seeing some concerning trends.

“We've had different clusters in different school groups and youth groups,” he said. “So it shows we have to be really careful in all of those situations.”

Last week, more than 150 children, ages 5 to 17, tested positive. That’s an increase from the week before. Positive cases among young adults, ages 18 to 22, are also up 14 percent.

The county is still dealing with the problem from a backlog in new cases the state is reporting. On Sunday, hundreds of cases reported by the county were backlogged from the state as far back as March and as recent as this month.

But Dr. Huang says things are improving.

“Some of the backlogs from the state health department have decreased,” he said. “We may be getting some other backlog from the other reporting.”

Dr. Huang says he doesn’t want to sound like a broken record. But now more than ever, he says consistency with masks and keeping distant is key.

“It is totally dependent on everyone to stay the course,” he said.

Halloween is in a couple of weeks. Right now, health officials haven’t made any recommendations about whether children should sit this holiday out.