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Dallas County reports 1 death, 109 new coronavirus cases; changes coming to test sites

A day after Dallas County announced its highest single-day toll from the coronavirus outbreak — 10 deaths — officials on Wednesday reported one additional death from the illness.

The patient who died was a Garland woman in her 80s who did not have underlying health conditions.

Officials also reported 109 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the Dallas News county’s total to 1,986. There have been 43 deaths related to the virus; Dallas County does not report how many patients have recovered.

In a prepared statement, County Judge Clay Jenkins praised residents for abiding by the county’s stay-at-home order, saying it would ensure that hospitals have enough resources and would help the area return to normal “sooner rather than later.”

An epidemiologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center told Jenkins that “we might have been the next New York” if the order had come a week later, the county judge said.

Testing site changes
One of Dallas’ two mobile coronavirus test sites is now using a less-invasive type of nasal swab, and both sites have relaxed their criteria for who can be tested.

The drive-through location at Ellis Davis Field House in the Red Bird area switched to self-swab kits Wednesday after trying them out earlier in the week.

Previously, the site used nasopharyngeal swabs — long, Q-tip-like swabs that are stuck deep into a person’s nasal cavity. Those swabs can be uncomfortable and may cause a person to gag or cough.

The self-swab kits let people collect their own sample from a shallower part of the nose.

“The self-swab testing method proves to be less invasive and is safer for patients and health care providers,” Randall Payton, incident commander in charge of the sites, said in a written statement. “Health and safety are the primary goals for workers and those being tested. We’re confident this new method will decrease the risk of contamination.”

The testing site at American Airlines Center will continue to use nasopharyngeal swabs.

Both sites are now allowing anyone who is 65 or older or who has a chronic health condition to be tested.

People who are younger or who don’t have a chronic health condition must have three COVID-19 symptoms to be tested: a cough, shortness of breath and a fever of at least 99.6 degrees.

Health officials have noted that about two-thirds of Dallas County COVID-19 patients who have required hospitalization have been at least 60 years old or have had underlying health conditions.

Jenkins said on Twitter that each site had been approved to soon start performing 500 tests a day — double the current number — but that the county was waiting on an official letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition, a previously announced Walgreens testing site in Dallas Press Release Distribution Service In Dallas will be at the store at 2060 S. Buckner Boulevard in Pleasant Grove, Jenkins said. The site will open in a few days and will offer 160 free tests a day.

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