DALLAS — Dallas County health officials on Tuesday pleaded with residents to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors, as they reported more than 3,200 new cases of COVID-19 over the last three days and as hospitalizations climbed to 682 people.
"This is heartbreaking," Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said during a news conference. "This is preventable."
Huang, who said there have been about 3,270 COVID-19 cases since Saturday, said around 90% of hospitalized patients in Dallas County have been unvaccinated.
Hospitalizations in Dallas County have climbed from below 200 in June to 682 people, as of this week. COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked at around 1,200 in Dallas County in January.
Across the North Texas region, there were 2,233 patients hospitalized as of this week, according to state data.
Dr. Emma Dishner, a specialist with North Texas Infectious Diseases Consultants, said a "vast majority" of her patients have been unvaccinated, some of whom in intensive care are in their 30s with no other health problems.
"This has been the saddest part of my life in the last month," watching COVID-19 hospitalizations rise among unvaccinated people, Dishner said. "I see people every day and this could have been prevented."
The doctors' warnings comes as COVID-19 continues to surge in North Texas, fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant. The Delta variant has also been shown to bring on more severe symptoms in unvaccinated people.
Watch the entire news conference below:
As of Tuesday, 53.15% of eligible residents were fully vaccinated in Dallas County, and 63.83% had received at least one dose, according to state data. Vaccinations have ticked up in recent weeks, jumping from 28,093 doses administered on the week of July 12 to more than 42,000 doses in each of the last two weeks.
But Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins warned that a large segment of the population remains unvaccinated, including all children under 12. Children under 12 aren't eligible to receive the vaccine, and county officials are urging families to have their children wear masks when they return to school this month.
“Multi-generational households are going to be most at risk of being decimated by this virus,” Dishner said as she urged school kids to mask up so they don’t bring the virus back home.
Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed to 55 across North Texas this week, the highest they've been since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
Jenkins on Monday filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order that bans mask mandates in Texas.
Jenkins is seeking a 14-day pause on Abbott's order while a Dallas County court reviews the case. Jenkins has argued that Abbott's order, issued in May, is overstepping his duty to mitigate a local disaster.
Dallas ISD on Monday defied Abbott's order, announcing that face masks will be required when school begins this month.
"Masks suck," Jenkins said, "but it's a small sacrifice to protect lives."