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COVID-19 updates: North Texas reports fifth straight day of rising hospitalizations

If hospitalizations stay above 15% through Thursday, an executive order requires the 19-county region to rollback restaurant capacity to 50%.

North Texas marked its fifth straight day of rising hospitalizations above the 15% threshold Tuesday. The region's hospitalizations are at 16.43%, according to the state COVID-19 dashboard

If hospitalizations stay above 15% through Thursday, an order by Gov. Greg Abbott requires the 19-county region to rollback restaurant capacity to 50% and bars must also close.

The 19-county region includes Dallas and Tarrant counties and smaller counties like Rockwall, Wise, and Denton counties.

The state of Texas is reporting 15,182 new cases, 170 new deaths and 9,047 current hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Dallas, Tarrant and Denton counties also reported an uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

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Dallas County reports 1,179 new cases and eight deaths Tuesday

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 1,179 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths from the disease Tuesday. The county says 83 of those new cases are probable. 

This places the county's total counts to 127,786 confirmed cases, 12,191 probable cases, 1,218 confirmed deaths and 36 probable deaths since tracking began in March.

In Dallas County, the seven-day average has risen to 1,405 cases a day, which is the highest infection rate in the county since tracking began in March.

The eight deaths reported Tuesday include the following people, all of whom had been hospitalized and had underlying high-risk health conditions:

  • A Grand Prairie man in his 60s
  • An Irving woman in her 60s
  • A Grand Prairie woman in her 70s
  • A Dallas woman in her 70s
  • A DeSoto man in his 70s
  • A Dallas man in his 70s
  • A DeSoto man in his 80s

As of Nov. 30, 70% of Dallas County's total hospital beds are occupied, and 78% of its ICU beds are occupied. There are currently 377 ventilators in use, according to a news release from the county.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that several labs that did not do testing over the Thanksgiving holiday will be back online tomorrow for testing.

"You need not wait for government action to recognize that the health experts on the national and the local level are telling us it is not safe to go to crowded places," Jenkins tweeted after issuing the day's COVID numbers Tuesday.

"We should avoid get-togethers with people outside our family, and we should wear our mask whenever around others. Now is a time for shared sacrifice and forgoing the selfish but understandable desires that we have to do the things that doctors tell us are just not safe for us, the community or the country."

Denton County reports 489 cases and no new deaths

Denton County health officials reported 489 new positive cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the county's cumulative total number of cases to 24,133 since tracking began in March. 

Local health officials say 389 of those newly reported cases are active, making a total of 5,896 active cases in the county right now. So far, 148 people have died from COVID-19 in Denton County since tracking began in March.

Denton County Public Health will be providing a free drive-thru COVID-19 testing center on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 at North Central Texas College’s Exchange Parking Garage at 319 E Sycamore St. in Denton.

Applicants must live in Denton County and must pre-register by calling 940-349-2585, and must not have previously tested positive for COVID-19. Appointments are available starting at 8 a.m.

Tarrant County reports more than 1,400 cases

Tarrant County officials reported 1,401 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, a day after the county reported 3,356 cases from the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The county is reporting 849 deaths and a total of 102,051 cases since tracking began in March. As of Tuesday, the county is reporting 896 confirmed COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.

Cleburne Lighted Christmas Parade canceled due to spike in cases

The Cleburne Chamber of Commerce has announced the 4th annual Lighted Christmas Parade has been canceled due to the recent spike in cases and hospitalizations.

“Unfortunately, circumstances have now reached a point where the ability to provide critical health care has been breached and conducting an activity such as a parade, that could further lead to mass spread of the virus and hospitalizations of residents would be irresponsible," Cleburne Fire Chief Scott Lail said.

Officials said other Whistle Stop Christmas events are still scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hulen Park, where social distancing will be implemented. Click here for more information. 

Duncanville football game canceled 

Friday's football game between Duncanville and Waxahachie has been canceled. 

Although Duncanville ISD did not state why the game was canceled, the district's dashboard shows 15 active cases of COVID-19 among students and 27 among staff.

Waxahachie ISD's COVID-19 dashboard shows 16 active student cases and 17 employees. 

Dallas mayor asks communities of color be prioritized in vaccine distribution

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine distribution to people of color.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will vote Tuesday on who gets the vaccine first.

In the letter, Johnson asked the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Chairman José Romero to allow Black and Hispanic to be among those given the vaccine first after essential workers and the most vulnerable. 

"Many of our essential workers are also people of color, which likely helps drive the higher infection rates among Black and Hispanic families," Johnson said.  

RELATED: Dallas mayor asks communities of color be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

COVID-19 hospitalizations shut down bars in Texas county

A Central Texas county has closed its bars after area hospitalizations for COVID-19 exceeded a state-mandated limit. 

Meanwhile, in Houston, officials say they are having problems with some bars that have been allowed to reopen as restaurants but are not enforcing COVID-19 regulations. 

On Sunday, McLennan County Judge Scott Felton closed bars and reduced capacity to 50% at stores, restaurants, and other businesses. 

The action comes after the area’s hospitalization rate for patients with COVID-19 went above 15% for seven consecutive days. 

In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to start visiting bars that have reopened as restaurants to ensure they are following rules related to occupancy limits and social distancing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.