DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A non-profit that maps COVID-19 hotspots says the data shows a massive 66% drop in the risk of contracting the virus in Dallas County in February.
“It’s significant,” said Steve Miff, president and CEO at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI). “It’s positive. We’re back to levels that we have seen last summer… The driving factor is likely lack of opportunity for social gatherings.”READ MORE: Virtual Learning May Remain An Option At Some North Texas School Districts
The hardest hit zip code during the pandemic, 75211 – which covers Cockrell Hill and parts of Oak Cliff – saw its risk drop the most.
The 75204 and 75243 zip codes also saw large declines.
PCCI credits continued social distancing, mask wearing and even the winter storms that hit Texas hard.
“Certainly helped that none of us wanted to or were able to get out,” Miff said. “It almost forced us to quarantine… Overall, we think that had a positive impact from a COVID perspective.”
With the governor ending the statewide mask mandate and allowing businesses to open up to 100% capacity, Miff expects to see the numbers go up again.
“That’s going to create probably more individuals not continuing to adhere to things that have brought the virus down in February and in January,” he said.READ MORE: Firefighters Battle Raging Fire At Addison Apartment Complex
To continue to see the risk decline, Miff says people must keep taking precautions and get vaccinated as soon as they’re able to.
“We have not vaccinated enough people to have enough protection to prevent the spread of the virus,” Miff said. “We’re getting closer each day, but we’re not there yet.”
PCCI predicts Dallas County can reach herd immunity as early as the middle of June if another million residents can get vaccinated by then.
“I think the faster we get there, the better it is because we will not give the virus further chances to create new variants, which are always unpredictable and we don’t know the impact it will have,” said Miff.
PCCI’s Vulnerability Index has been tracking the impact of the pandemic since June 2020.
It identifies communities at risk by examining comorbidity rates, including chronic illnesses such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes and heart disease; areas with a high density of populations over the age of 65; and increased social deprivation such as lack of access to food, medicine, employment and transportation.
These factors are combined with dynamic mobility rates and confirmed COVID-19 cases where a vulnerability index value is scaled relative to July 2020’s COVID-19 peak value.MORE NEWS: Texas COVID-19 Hospitalizations At Lowest Level Since Last June
The PCCI COVID-19 Vulnerability Index can be found on its COVID-19 Hub for Dallas County.