Stay-at-home-orders were effective in Tarrant County but next few weeks critical, HSC analysis finds
By Alex Branch
Tarrant County’s stay-at-home order and social-distancing measures have been largely effective in slowing transmission of COVID-19, but the next few weeks are critical in determining if the relaxation of restrictions causes a surge in cases, according to an analysis by The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC).
Publicly available data suggests Tarrant County has reached a plateau in new daily COVID-19 cases. But “with the lifting of many of the mandated restrictions starting May 1, it remains to be seen how effective the more limited social-distancing measures are,” stated Dr. Rajesh Nandy, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, who conducted the analysis.
Dr. Dennis Thombs, Dean of the School of Public Health, said the report shows “the county’s stay-at-home-order was effective.”
“However, we may be in the third inning of a nine-inning game,” he said. “The final local outcomes are dependent upon the practices we adopt going forward. Increased mobility creates risk that new cases will surge.”
To conduct the analysis, Dr. Nandy gathered and compiled data from numerous resources, including Tarrant County Public Health, North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council and Johns Hopkins University Corona Virus Resource Center.
Among the important findings was the impact of restrictions on health care resources. Because Tarrant County currently appears to have reached a plateau in new daily COVID-19 cases, the current level of hospital beds, intensive care beds and ventilators is adequate for “the near future,” the report found.
“Health care facilities have been able to operate well below capacity, providing necessary treatment and care to all patients,” Dr. Nandy said. “However, with the mandated restrictions being gradually lifted, we will keep monitoring the transmission of the disease to identify a future surge in the number of cases.”
As of May 11, the infection rate in Tarrant County is 1.4 per 1,000 people, according to the report. It appears that the spread of COVID-19 is exhibiting very similar trends in Tarrant, Dallas, Denton and Collin counties.
HSC Fort Worth is one of the nation’s premier graduate academic medical centers, with six schools that specialize in patient-centered education, research and health care.
Tracking the pandemic
The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth is monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on communities.
Rajesh R. Nandy, PhD, Associate Professor of Biostatics and Epidemiology at the HSC School of Public Health, authored the periodic reports.
Dr. Nandy will continue to track the impact of COVID-19 for the duration of the pandemic. Experts expect the pandemic will be an ongoing concern for the next 12 months or so. Here are the reports issued so far:
- COVID-19 Report – May 28, 2020
- COVID-19 Report – June 18, 2020
- COVID-19 Report – July 3, 2020
- COVID-19 Report – July 20, 2020