Fort Worth, Texas,
11:23 AM

With COVID-19 Cases On The Rise, County Leaders and Physicians Urge Community To Wear Masks

No break in sight as coronavirus increases ahead of flu season. It's time to return back to basics

"Please for the love of God, put on a mask!"

Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter's frustration speaks for many physicians, nurses and other health care providers too. 

Shetter spoke at a news conference announcing that face coverings will be required in all area Tarrant County businesses and outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more, as part of an executive order.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley stated the  order goes into effect at 6 p.m. Friday and will stay in effect through 6 a.m. Aug. 3.

The executive order came as recent cases continue to surge, locally and throughout the state.

As of June 24, 2020, 215 people have died in Tarrant County from COVID-19, with a total of 9,846 positive cases and 460 new cases. More than 4,600 people have recovered after getting the virus.

The news across the state is not good either. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported on the same day that the state would surpass 5,000 new cases in a single day for the first time.

This recent surge in COVID-19 cases means doctors, nurses, and other health care providers won’t get what they hoped for: a chance to catch their breath before the flu season arrives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were between 24,000 – 62,000 flu deaths from October 1, 2019, through April 4, 2020 (last flu season).

In contrast, the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine's Coronavirus Resource Center reports more than 122,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the United States as of June, 25, 2020.

“It appeared things were getting better in the latter half of May. However, throughout June, things began to climb,” Dr. Whitworth said. “We have to do a better job right now, taking care of one another, and returning to the basics.”

Those basics include staying home, social distancing, not touching your face, washing your hands frequently, and wearing masks.

Masks are a courtesy to others. They protect those who may be more vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly or those with chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis or diabetes. Masks should cover the mouth and nose to keep others safe.

As the cases increase, the overall outlook for children with COVID-19 remains good.

At Cook Children’s, 125 kids have tested positive. Six of those patients are currently at the medical center, but that’s compared to more than 4,700 patients receiving negative results. The majority of children testing positive have not required medical intervention.

Up to this point, children make up a small percentage of hospitalizations and death in the United States as a result of COVID-19.

Nationally, children represent about 3.7% of all hospitalizations related to COVID-19 and only 0.7% of deaths. Data shows that infants, less than 1 year of age, have had the most severe disease in the pediatric age group.

“We’ve been very fortunate in pediatrics with the COVID-19 disease,” said Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s. “One of the things we know about children is that they are less likely to be as ill as adults who contract COVID-19. It’s thought that 50% or less of children who have COVID have a fever. They may not show any symptoms of the disease, or may just have a cough.”

And while the risk to kids is lower, it’s not zero. So even if you don’t want to take precautions for yourself, do it for those around you that are high risk and for children who may be affected by the virus.

“We know now that people are contagious, probably for about two days before they develop symptoms. So, they don’t know they’re sick, and some people never get symptoms. And they still have this virus coming out when they are talking, or coughing or sneezing. That’s what this cloth mask does. It keeps it in. So even if you feel ambivalent and you’re not worried that you’re going to get COVID and you think I’m not going to wear a mask and if I get it, I get it, please remember, the reason you wear the cloth mask out in public is to protect others who are worried about catching it, to protect high-risk populations and to protect the public in general. That’s why it’s important to wear a mask.”

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