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Dallas County COVID-19 threat upgraded to 'orange' as cases, hospitalizations rise

North Texas COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have risen in recent weeks as a result of the Delta variant and lagging vaccinations rates.

DALLAS — Dallas County officials on Friday night upgraded the county's COVID-19 threat level to orange, or "extreme caution," for unvaccinated people, Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted.

The orange level indicates moderate community risk for COVID-19 transmission and advises people to take extra precautions.

No protocols or restrictions were put in place as a result of the upgraded threat level. The move by county officials is a recommendation of precautions for unvaccinated people.

RELATED: Back to 'extreme caution': How Dallas County's COVID-19 threat level has changed the past 14 months

Those precautions include: Using drive-through, delivery or curbside pickup options when eating out; limiting shopping trips; avoiding non-essential travel; not attending events and entertainment; and attending religious services and other large gatherings virtually, if possible.

Dallas County on Friday reported 434 new cases of COVID-19. As of Friday afternoon, 292 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Dallas County.

RELATED: 'It really is tearing through Texas' | Health leaders worried about rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Across North Texas, 1,035 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, and statewide cases and hospitalizations have also ticked up in recent weeks.

Health experts attribute the rise in COVID-19 spread to the prevalence of the Delta variant, which has shown to be more transmissible and cause more severe symptoms for unvaccinated people.

In Dallas County, 49.08% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

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Recent data released by UT Southwestern researchers has projected that North Texas could reach summer 2020 levels of COVID-19 spread by the fall, if vaccinations continue to lag and social distancing protocols aren't taken.

RELATED: COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Texas could reach summer 2020 levels, new data says