DALLAS - Dallas County reported nine new positive cases of COVID-19 coronavirus on Tuesday.
Notably, three of the new cases are now in critical care at local hospitals -- including some patients in their 20s and 30s with no underlying medical conditions. Two others are also hospitalized and four others are self-isolating at home.
Of the new cases: two women in their 20s, one man in 30s, one man and one woman in 40s, two women in 50s, one man in 60s, one woman in 70s. Eight are from the city of Dallas. One case is related to international travel.
The individuals in their 20s and 30s are in critical condition, and they have no underlying health conditions.
What is more concerning is the apparent growth of community spread in the area. Just three of the cases are related to close contacts with COVID-19. Five are likely community spread, health officials said.
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"It is imperative that you exercise sound decision making in your personal responsibility decisions,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins in a statement. “We must replace selfishness with sacrifice if we are to protect our seniors and most vulnerable amongst us. Don’t give into fear, rather have faith in the science, the science that will be your roadmap to keeping you and your family safe."
Dr. Diana Cervantes was chief epidemiologist at the state level during the Ebola response in 2014. Although older people with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, lung disease or asthma are most at-risk to develop severe symptoms, anyone could get seriously ill.
“We're all susceptible to this,” the doctor warned. “Nobody has immunity.”
Cervantes says this is the first time COVID-19 has been introduced to the U.S. population, meaning Americans could react slightly differently than people in other countries.
“In the United States, we also have different distributions of diseases and different factors that play into how we might see overall the clinical picture for the population,” she said.
Dallas City Councilman Adam Bazaldua, a millennial himself, is sharing the same message.
“It's important for people our age to not look at this as not just an extended break and extended time to hang out with friends,” he said. “It's important for this to be a wakeup call and for people of the younger generation to realize we all have to do our part.”
There are now at least 28 cases in Dallas County of coronavirus, six in Tarrant County, eight in Collin County and one in Denton County.
Coronavirus health tips
While COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, daily precautions recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses are the same:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Get a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)