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Possible rollbacks coming as COVID patients increase at North Texas hospitals

For the fifth consecutive day, more than 15% of North Texas hospital beds are now taken up by patients fighting the coronavirus.

For the fifth consecutive day, more than 15% of North Texas hospital beds are now taken up by patients fighting the coronavirus. If North Texas hits seven days above 15%, a governor’s order will shut down North Texas bars and drop restaurants to 50% capacity in this 19-county region.

“With just having gone through the Thanksgiving holiday, with the colder weather and people spending more time inside, with everyone having COVID fatigue, it is not at all surprising that these numbers are where they are and we anticipate that they’re going to keep going up,” Dallas County Health Director Dr. Phillip Huang said. “We’ve been very concerned about this for the last couple weeks.”

Though Huang is hopeful people will step up to the challenge and be safe, he doesn’t expect this rollback to change much.

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

“Going from 75 to 50% isn’t going to make a difference,” Huang said. “It’s hard to even tell or enforce or anything with the difference between 75 and 50%.”

Chris Porter with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said his 220 agents have been working hard to make sure restaurants and bars follow the rules.

“Since the end of June we’ve conducted more than 24,000 inspections across Texas, and of those we’ve seen fewer than 700 violations,” Porter said. “So that means that businesses understand the risk and they are really putting the safety of their employees and customers first.”

RELATED: 'It's as bad as it has been, and it's going to get worse': COVID-19 hospitalizations set records in North Texas

He pointed out that 2,800 Texas bars have converted to restaurants in recent months, so that means if North Texas bars shut down, those operating as restaurants can remain open at 50% capacity.

“If residents of Denton, Dallas, or Tarrant Counties are out and they notice a business where there could be cause for concern we do ask that they contact TABC or they contact their local health and safety officials to let us know that we need to go visit one of these locations to address the problem before it becomes serious,” Porter said. “We have been extremely fortunate that the vast majority of businesses have been able to comply with the rules put in place by Governor Abbott and the state health authorities.”

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Huang knows it will take all of us to get through this.

“We’ve seen that we can slow this spread down when everyone makes a sacrifice and does what we know works,” Dr. Huang said. “And we just need to stick to it, not let up, and keep being vigilant.”