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COVID-19 cases spiking in Tarrant County, health officials point to BA.5 variant as problem

Tarrant County reported over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 daily this week. On Wednesday, that number was over 2,000. Sixty-two people were hospitalized in 24 hours.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — The Tarrant County Health and Human Services Department recorded 1,131 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday--the fifth day in a row where the department has recorded 1,000-plus COVID-19 cases. 

On Wednesday of this week, the department recorded over 2,000 cases. 

Tarrant County Health and Human Services Director Vinny Taneja told WFAA that the problem is centered around the new Omicron BA.5 subvariant, which is more contagious and less deadly but can evade vaccines. 

"The new variant seems to be behind everything," Taneja said. "People are traveling, they're enjoying summer, they're congregating indoors without masks--some people haven't kept up with their vaccination or booster dates, so all that combined adds that upward pressure, and more cases start coming in," Taneja said. 

Tarrant County has added 62 hospitalizations within the last 24 hours as of Friday evening. 

The numbers are as high as in February when the Omicron variant took hold of North Texas. 

Taneja is encouraging more folks who aren't vaccinated or received a booster to get the shot before school starts. 

The DFW Hospital Council--not fully worried, however.

Steve Love, the President and CEO of the council told WFAA Friday that "I would characterize the current trend as a wave, not a surge. It's stabilizing as far as hospitalizations go." 

Love said that 830 people are hospitalized in the area with COVID but added that it only represents 6 percent of available bed capacity. 

It's higher than one month ago but nothing like previous surges. 

Dr. Donna Casey, the president-elect of the Dallas County Medical Society, told WFAA that people should still live their lives but be mindful of those who are vulnerable. 

"We want to think about the whole and not just ourselves," Dr. Casey said. "If you're feeling sick--avoid places and think twice if you're hanging out with anyone who is immunosuppressed."

Casey also wanted to point out that the antiviral therapy Paxlovid is also available and free to anyone who gets sick. 

"Pharmacists can now give you the drug. So don't be afraid to go get tested, get help, and get treatment, especially when it's free," Casey said. 

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