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'This is an epidemic': Doctor says most Tarrant County COVID-19 patients on ventilators are not vaccinated

On Thursday, Tarrant County reported 634 new COVID-19 cases, 20 more occupied ventilators at the hospitals, and five additional deaths.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — On Thursday, Tarrant County reported 634 new COVID-19 cases, 20 more occupied ventilators at the hospitals, and five additional deaths. It remains on High Community Spread Level.

Area hospitals are intaking more COVID-19 patients each day.

At Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, Dr. John Burk said it's been busy, not just for doctors and nurses. 

"This involves housekeeping, pharmacy, respiratory therapy. Everybody is involved," said Burk. 

He describes the current increase in COVID-19 numbers as "a surge amongst the unvaccinated." Almost all of his patients who require ventilators are not vaccinated.

Burk said hospital staff are constantly in personal protective equipment, and changing it out as they enter and exit each room.

"[The patients] can see your eyes, and they're struggling to breathe, even on high flow oxygen 100%. You reassure them that you'll take good care of them as you give them medication," he describes. 

For some of his COVID-19 patients, that's the last thing they see and hear. 

This week, Tarrant County has resumed free COVID-19 testing. It will be on a rotating schedule at locations across the county. The hope is that identifying cases will help reduce the spread.

Burk is encouraging people to get the vaccine if they haven't already. In Tarrant County, free vaccination sites are open throughout the week.