The holiday season looked different for many this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as families were urged to keep their distance, but data on cases in Collin County tells a different story.
County-level data shows that COVID-19 cases in Collin County alone nearly doubled throughout the holidays, despite health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the county health department begging people to stay home for the holidays and avoid large gatherings.
But their message didn't seem to register. Between the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25 and Jan. 6, cases have increased in Collin County by about 95% — from 24,571 cases Nov. 25 to 47,851 Jan. 6, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The data shows the number of confirmed cases over time by county.
For reference, the period between Nov. 25 and Jan. 6 spans just 43 days. When looking at the previous 43-day period between Oct. 13 and Nov. 24, there was only a 48% increase in cases from 16,384 Oct. 13 to 24,325 Nov. 24.
“We urged our Collin County citizens to celebrate with their individual households instead of the typical, large family gatherings,” says Darrell Willis, the public information officer for Collin County Health Care Services.
Denton County follows a similar trend, with a 76% increase in cases between Nov. 25 and Jan. 6 — from 19,019 cases Nov. 25 to 33,392 Jan. 6 — in comparison to a 44% increase in cases from 12,960 Oct. 13 to 18,714 Nov. 24.
Statewide case trends show a much smaller percentage increase than both Collin and Denton counties but still an increase, according to TDSHS statewide case count data. Between Nov. 25 and Jan. 6, total cases across the state increased by 46% and during the comparable period from Oct. 13 to Nov. 24, cases rose by 39%.
Willis said the increase in cases is likely because “colder weather drives more people inside together in addition to individuals wanting to be with their families for holiday gatherings.”
On Jan. 5, Collin County launched its vaccine waitlist for residents who met TDSHS’ Phase 1A, including health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities, and 1B, which includes those over 65 and those 16 or older with chronic medical conditions, categories. The county received 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses at the end of December and hasn’t received any more as of Jan. 8.
But the sharp increase in cases during the holiday season will not affect vaccine distribution, Willis said.
“We are working to vaccinate as many people as possible, as fast as we can with our current allotment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that we received from the Texas Department of State Health Services,” Willis said.