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Report: Tarrant County Social Distancing Measures Have Slowed COVID-19 Spread

Coronavirus under microscope
National Institutes of Health
Via Associated Press
The coronavirus under microscope.

New research shows social distancing measures taken in Tarrant County appear to be working, but it will be a few weeks before researchers know whether the curve is going to stay flat as the state reopens.

Rajesh Nandy, a statistician at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, analyzed the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as ER visits and hospital admissions for suspected cases.

“The good thing is that whatever approach you are taking, we do see that ever since the lockdown mandate was implemented, there has been a steady decline in the transmission rate,” he said.

Looking at raw confirmed case numbers can be tricky because there are so many variables that can affect them, including a lack of widespread testing that leads to an undercount of cases, Nandy said. To him, hospital data is more reliable.

“People are showing up to [the] ER when they are having bad symptoms,” he said. “So in that sense, it’s less susceptible to how wide your testing is.”

The data shows the estimated transmission rate had plateaued by May 1 — the same day the state began to reopen. A flat transmission rate means hospitals have enough space and enough ventilators for COVID patients, according to the report.

Nandy said it will be a few weeks before we see whether loosened restrictions affect the curve, because it takes time for people to develop symptoms, get tested and get their test results back.

Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.