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Denton County Public Health: The number of ICU beds filled is at an all-time high. Schools are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 infection

“There’s no question that this is happening in Denton County, but it’s having a region-wide impact," said Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson.

DENTON COUNTY, Texas — During a Zoom call with WFAA on Friday, Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson begged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“This continues to be a pandemic and a tragic one,” Richardson said.

His plea came as Denton County logged several days with zero ICU beds this week. On Friday, there was one ICU bed available in the entire county.

“It is an all-time high in cases, in ICU beds [filled] in Denton County hospitals,” he explained.

Richardson said schools are bearing the brunt of infection.

Data from Denton County Public Health showed there were 2,814 positive COVID-19 cases between Aug. 22-28, and the 12-19 age group made up 39% of those cases (1,100) - the highest amount among all age groups.

“It’s just skyrocketing,” Richardson said. “There’s no question that this is happening in Denton County, but it’s having a region-wide impact."

"For instance, we don’t have pediatric ICU beds, so Denton County pediatric cases have to go to Dallas, Collin or Tarrant so already, we are providing a surge to other counties in those pediatric beds,” Richardson explained.

Misty McGee, a nurse at USMD in Denton County, has seen one COVID-19 patient after the next since the pandemic began. 

“It has changed drastically in the last two weeks,” McGee said.

On Friday, she was quarantined at home with COVID-19. She said her case is mild thanks to an antibody infusion and the recent COVID-19 vaccine booster she received.

Without that, the nurse with pre-existing conditions said she could have ended up hospitalized or losing her life.

Stephen Love, President and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, said the situation in Denton is serious, but counties are working together make more room for patients and transfer them to other hospitals across the Metroplex for treatment. Love said COVID-19 cases in North Texas could get worse in the next week.

“It’s gonna be interesting to see what’s the impact of Labor Day, what's the impact of the larger crowds that have been going to college football games, fall festivals, that sort of thing,” Love said.

McGee shared a nearly half-hour video on Facebook, where she urged her vaccine hesitant family and friends to get the shot.

“Now that I’ve shared that video, there are 13 people who have signed up and gotten their very first vaccine,” McGee said. "That’s all that matters to me, and - I’m getting a little emotional - but I’m from a small town, and I understand why people are scared to get this vaccine, I get it, but it’s not a live vaccine. It’s literally going to save your life.”