North Texas counties reporting record-high numbers of COVID-19 deaths

County leaders have been warning to expect high numbers of coronavirus deaths, and that is happening.

Dallas County reported 39 deaths Tuesday following 40 the previous day and following the deadliest week of the pandemic last week.

Tarrant County reported 37 deaths Tuesday, which was its second-highest daily total of the pandemic.

County leaders say these high numbers are in line with expectations after the December and January spikes in infections and hospitalizations.

Tarrant, Dallas, Collin and Denton counties reported on Tuesday that 2,637 coronavirus patients are currently hospitalized. COVID-19 patients are using just under 19% of hospital capacity in the greater North Texas region.

The ongoing gradual decline in hospitalizations since mid-January is easing some of the strain on healthcare professionals.

While deaths continue to be reported at a high level, the amount of hospital patients is projected to continue to make a steady decline.

North Texas hospitals were at pandemic high levels following the holidays. While COVID patient capacity is still high, there has been a gradual downward trend.

It’s an encouraging sign to Parkland Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Chang.

"Our asymptomatic carrier rate is going down. Our positivity rates are going down," he said. "So we are all excited about that."

In the last two weeks, UT Southwestern models show a 17% reduction in Tarrant County patients and a 7% decline in Dallas County.

Parkland Hospital had 230 COVID patients as of Tuesday. A few weeks ago, they had 260.

"It gives them a spring in their step," Dr. Chang said. "It gives them energy to go back the next day to know there is that light."

UT Southwestern says the decline will continue in our most populated counties.

In Tarrant County, there are 465 fewer COVID patients since last month’s peak.  In Dallas County, that number is 312.

Levels are declining in Collin and Denton counties as well. Collin has 94 fewer patients than the January peak and Denton County had 52 fewer.

"The work doesn't stop. We still have plenty of patients," Dr. Chang said. "We still have a lot of patients, and a lot of those patients are requiring a lot of care and some are passing away."

The COVID-19 threat will remain high for the foreseeable future.

Dr. Chang says people need to keep making safe decisions.

"All the signs are all good right now," he said. "We need folks to stay the course and get the vaccine."