Denton County sees rise in number of COVID-19 cases, positivity rate

Denton County public health officials say COVID-19 infections in the county are trending in the wrong direction after jumping by more than 2,000 cases in two weeks.

Public health officials also say Denton County’s rate of positive cases has more than doubled in recent weeks.

County health officials say over the last three weeks, the county’s positivity rate jumped up from about 11 percent to 23 percent of tests coming back positive, even though the county conducted fewer tests this past week.

Public health officials say the data is a growing concern with the Labor Day holiday and schools getting ready to open back up in the fall.

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Denton County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Richardson briefed county commissioners Tuesday morning on the current realities they’re facing with growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“Over 2000 cases in two weeks and 30 percent of our total confirmed cases happened in a two-week period. That’s an enormous jump,” Dr. Richardson said. “So for every 100 cases, almost one in four, about 23.5 percent, are positive. That’s indicative of a lot of disease transmission, and it's showing us that these cases now are exposing others in the worst-case scenario. So we're concerned that the case is going to breed more cases.”

County health officials say the new cases are coming from a variety of sources and indicate people may not be wearing face masks or keeping a safe distance from others as much as possible.

“Unfortunately, the tracing results are all over the board and lots of household contacts,” Dr. Richardson said. “That remains one of our largest point sources of transmission. Some occupational contacts and in some contacts that are just local transmission that we cannot pinpoint where someone was exposed.”

After consulting with the attorney general's office, Denton County determined local public health officials didn't have the authority to order school campuses to remain closed.

Instead, county health officials only recommended that school districts delay in-person classes until Sept. 8th based on the new data.

Some districts, like Lewisville ISD, have already announced they’ll start virtually in August and not open for in-person learning until September.

Public health officials say they hope the delay provides more time for schools to get safety protocols in place.

“Teacher to teacher. Student to teacher. Teacher to student. All of that remains a possibility,” Dr. Richardson said. “And with these additional cases and the additional positivity, we’re trending in such a fashion that we see a lot of risk.”

Denton county public health officials also say COVID-19 cases among the 0 to 19 age group jumped from 14 to 165 since the week of Memorial Day.  Part of the concern is although kids don't appear to be affected as severely by the virus, they can spread it to others at home or in the community.

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