Dallas County has reimplemented its highest threat level for COVID-19 due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
Health officials made the recommendation to County Judge Clay Jenkins Tuesday, Dec. 28, to increase the threat level to “highest rate of transmission” as hospitalizations and infections climbed across the county. Last week, officials declined to raise the threat level from orange, but the staffing shortages in hospitals and increase in cases facilitated the change.
A letter from the Public Health Committee to Judge Jenkins said, “a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and the hospital census in Dallas in the past week. We do also know that we have clusters of COVID-19 associated with social events, increased outbreaks in congregate settings and Dallas County is seeing a significant impact on the health care staffing and with pressure on emergency departments.”
The letter also stated that hospitalizations have seen a 50% increase over the last week along with an increase of children hospitalized due to COVID-19. It also acknowledged only 54% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated and just under 14% have received a booster shot.
The committee recommended five items for commissioners to consider to combat the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
- Increasing the vaccination and boosted rates for Dallas County residents.
- Enhancing the testing capacity of the county in order to detect cases earlier and prevent transmission.
- Implementing universal masking and physical distancing in public areas.
- Limiting the size of public gatherings to allow for physical distancing.
- Encouraging masking, vaccination and getting boosted to slow the spread of the omicron variant.
“Our top priority is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents and our employees. The city is monitoring the situation closely,” Sachse City Manager Gina Nash said. “The city will communicate any operational changes on our website and social media accounts if those changes are needed.”
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control reduced the isolation period for asymptomatic cases from 10 days to five.
With the upcoming holiday and potential gatherings for New Year’s Eve, the committee’s letter encouraged people to stay at home and avoid large social events.
“We understand that everyone is tired of the pandemic and wants to get back to normal and celebrate,” the committee said. “New Year’s gatherings, especially those in a bar or other large indoor public settings pose a substantial risk for spread in the community.”