DALLAS - The rate of COVID-19 positivity more than doubled this week over last week with the spread of omicron, and there is soaring demand for testing.
In Texas, there was another positivity rate record, as 24.42% of tests are coming back positive.
But the nation’s top health experts said hospitalizations and deaths do not appear to be rising at the same rate.
Positivity rates and hospitalizations are increasing in Dallas County, and in Tarrant County, health officials said roughly one in five people are testing positive.
Nationwide, the CDC said there are more than 240,000 new COVID-19 cases a day on average, which is a significant increase, but there is some promising news.
"The spike in cases is out of proportion to the increase in hospitalization, so if one looks at 14-day averages, the data as of last night, indicate a +126% increase in cases and an 11% increase in hospitalizations," Dr. Anthony Fauci explained.
Though there is some optimism omicron may not significantly raise hospitalizations and deaths nationwide, doctors in Dallas County are seeing a rise in hospitalizations.
"Situation is bad right now, today. It's going to get worse tomorrow, and it's going to get worse the week after that," Dr. Mark Casanova said.
Dr. Casanova is on the Dallas County Public Health Committee, which raised the county’s COVID-19 risk level back to its highest level, red, this week, meaning community transmission is widespread.
He said hospitals are seeing a two- to three-fold increase in hospitalizations, which, to this point, have remained below the case surges from last summer and last year’s holiday season.
"I don't think we're going to skirt the hospitalization issue. We are, however, hopeful that that same relative increase in numbers will not translate into that same relative increase in deaths," Dr. Casanova explained.
According to the committee, some healthcare settings are seeing as much as 40% COVID-positivity.
The county is also seeing an increase in ER visits for COVID-like illness, more than a quarter of which are suspected COVID-19 cases.
Meantime, testing remains in high demand. Denton County Public Health held two drive-thru sites in Denton and Lewisville to help.
"We're talking several hundred percent increase in demand," Tarrant County Public Health Director Dr. Vinny Taneja said.
Tarrant County is also increasing testing capacity.
Before Christmas, county testing sites were only getting about 15-20 requests a day. They’re now getting up to 600 requests a day.
"What we're seeing, coming back in the testing data, is that people are actually sick, you know, of course, the positivity rate for the county is about 18% right now," Dr. Taneja said.
The county is adding three drive-thru sites in Bedford, Arlington, and Fort Worth that can test up to 1,000 people each per day, in addition to their five clinics.
"Everywhere in the county, where people are getting tested, one in five are positive. And some of our sites that we're getting data from, even one in three comes back positive," Dr. Taneja said.
Tarrant County is also expanding testing hours, as testing sites will now open seven days a week to keep up with testing demand.