After three years, three months, and twelve days since the United States initially declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, the federal designation was officially terminated on May 11. Over one million Americans have succumbed to the disease in that period, six thousand of whom were residents of Tarrant County.
The Fort Worth Report has meticulously analyzed data from the New York Times and the Texas Department of State Health Services to provide a local assessment of Tarrant County’s experience during the pandemic. The visualized data divulges how the county compares with others in Texas.
Tarrant County first reported a COVID-19 case on March 10, 2020. It has been established that the infected person traveled to a conference in Kentucky during late February. Within a year, the county had reported over 200,000 cases, and within two years, over 450,000, ultimately culminating in more than 535,000 cases of COVID-19 by the last day of data reporting, May 10, 2023. This figure equates to five sold-out Taylor Swift concerts at AT&T Stadium. Although the county is the third-most populated in the state, with Harris and Dallas at the top, its rate of COVID-19 cases was second only to Bexar’s, standing at 30,435 cases for every 100,000 people.
As cases spiraled, hospitals scrambled to address the demands from the pandemic. They encountered staff shortages, vaccine mandate debates, and unexpected respiratory viruses further compounding their efforts. The percentage of available beds utilized by COVID-19 patients, covering Tarrant, Dallas, and the neighboring counties, waxed and waned with four distinct peaks, closely reflecting statewide numbers.
Tarrant County acknowledged its first COVID-19 death on March 17, 2020, one week following the first reported case. The deceased individual was an older adult who resided in the Texas Masonic Retirement Center in Arlington. Despite the ebbs and flows experienced, deaths from COVID-19 plateaued at around 5,622 over the pandemic’s duration, and this number could nearly fill Billy Bob’s Texas. When compared to Texas’s other most populous counties, Tarrant ranked second highest in death rates, with The New York Times indicating 307 deaths for every 100,000 people, second only to Bexar County.
On December 11, 2020, nine months after Tarrant County confirmed its first COVID-19 case, the United States Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval for the Pfizer vaccine. Four days later, the county received its initial shipment. In the subsequent months, amid the emergence of various vaccines and multiple variants, Tarrant County has vaccinated a substantial percentage of its population. As of May 15, 2022, 58% of people had either received the primary vaccination series or completed it. However, only 10% of residents had received the bivalent booster designed to counter both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron variant. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise anyone above six years to receive the bivalent booster.
Alexis Allison, the health reporter, continues to provide updates on Fort Worth Report. To reach her, email [email protected], or alternatively, engage with her on Twitter.
Texas Health Resources support Allison in her position at the Fort Worth Report. Board members and financial sponsors do not influence news decisions at the organization. To know more, read their editorial independence policy.