DALLAS – Wednesday was the deadliest day yet for COVID-19 in Dallas County, as 36 people died from the coronavirus.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the record number of deaths is a “somber reminder of the seriousness of this outbreak.”
Along with the 36 new deaths, Dallas County health officials reported 704 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday.
This brings the county’s totals to 48,732 cases and 658 deaths from the coronavirus.
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The ages of the 36 new deaths ranged from a Dallas man in his 40s, to three men and a woman who were in their 90s.
A majority of the 36 people who died from the coronavirus had at least one underlying health condition. Six of them were people who lived in long-term care facilities.
Dallas County Medical Society President Dr. Mark Casanova said we could continue to see high number of COVID-19 deaths. They are to be expected because deaths lag behind new cases.
So while case numbers drop, the people who became severely ill when cases were spiking are now losing their battle with the virus.
“It takes the wind out of our sails to believe that we are in a stage of improvement, only to learn that the number of lives lost takes a dramatic increase,” Dr. Casanova said. “This is sort of a double wave, if you will. The first wave of the actual infections and hospitalizations, and even as that is coming down with everybody’s strong efforts, we are now seeing the second wave: the wave of death that usually lags behind a couple to several weeks behind the initial wave.”
Dr. Casanova added that these were all premature, preventable deaths, and reminds people to wash their hands, stay socially distant, and wear a mask.
But new research suggests we could turn a corner as soon as this week.
Dr. Rajesh Nandy teaches biostatistics and epidemiology at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
“All I can say is in the short term we will probably see a decline in the number of deaths,” he said.
Dr. Nandy is out with a new report that estimates a 14-day lag between cases and deaths. Using that figure, he estimates the statewide peak in deaths will come Saturday.
“We can see that based on when the recent peak hit in terms of new cases, we expect to see the peak in terms of new deaths by Aug. 1.”
But Dr. Nandy says his projection is only short-term and based on the current trends, including the drop in hospitalizations tied to increased social distancing and mask usage in place for weeks now.
If people ease up, Dr. Nandy says anything is a possibility.
“We have to be very clear that the decline that I am predicting is for a very short term because we don’t know what happens with the daily number of new cases,” he said. “My sense is that until there is a vaccine or an effective retrovirus, we will see some ups and downs. But we have to do our best to restrict the ups and hope that people comply.”
Hospitalization levels still remain high, although they are not climbing at the rate they once were.
Dr. Nandy says that is his biggest concern right now because hospitals do not have much wiggle room if there is another spike in cases.