DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Standing in front of a chart, Health and Human Services (DCHHS) director Philip Huang explained how the COVID-19 outbreak could play out in Dallas County.

“It’s not complicated math,” he said.

If 40% of the county’s residents are infected by COVID-19, he predicts more than 75,000 will require hospitalization.

With just over 4,000 available hospital beds to accommodate them, the shortage of space in which to care for them would be overwhelming. In all, Huang says, it’s likely more than 13,000 county residents would die, including more than 300 children younger than 10 years old.

In contrast, if the county abides by a stay at home order, Huang says, it could keep the infection rate to as little as two-percent. In that scenario, there would be more than enough hospital beds to treat those most affected by the virus, and the number of deaths in Dallas County would be fewer than 700.

But the restrictions on day-to-day life are likely to last for some time. “Months, unfortunately,” said County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Rather than list which business must shut down, the order taking effect Monday night lists which businesses will be allowed to stay open.

Jenkins says he cast a wide net, including more than similar shelter-in-place orders have.

“Right now we are waging battle with sticks at best and we need swords,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, president of the Dallas County Medical Society, representing an estimated 8,400 area physicians.

Without action, Casanova warned, limited resources could run out quickly. “If we change nothing, many hospitals run the risk of exhausting appropriate protective equipment by mid-April.”


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