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'If you're unvaccinated, you're playing Russian roulette' | North Texas health leader says majority of COVID-19 hospitalized patients are unvaccinated

As COVID-19 hospitalizations rise across Texas, the president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council says many rural hospitals are facing a shortage on staff.

DALLAS — As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise across Texas, many health care facilities are facing staff shortages, according to President and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Stephen Love.

In many situations, hospitals are having to deal with health care professionals deciding to get out of the industry altogether, Love said.

"We have a very fatigued workforce," Love said. "They've been at this 18 months."

Love said the shortage goes beyond just nurses and doctors. This also includes respiratory therapists and supporting staff, among other positions.

"We actually have a lot of excellent health care professionals that are leaving the profession," Love said. "They're burnt out. They're just worn out, and they're leaving."

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Here is a look at the capacity of COVID-19 patients in North Texas hospitals, according to data from the DFW Hospital Council.

As of Saturday, there are currently 2,138 COVID-19 patients in Trauma Service Area E, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. This includes most of the North Texas hospitals.

These hospitals had 450 COVID-19 patients in the hospitals one month ago on July 7.

About 35-37% of ICU patients in North Texas hospitals are there for COVID-19, according to Love.

Love also said the current 2,138 patients represent more than 15% of the area's total bed capacity, and compared to last summer, many patients this time around are much younger.

"I'm talking people in their 20s, 30s, 40s," Love said. "We've got sick patients young age, no other underlying health conditions that are on ventilators."

Credit: Jay Wallis

This comes a day after two North Texas hospital groups were forced to shift staff to address the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the area.

RELATED: Two North Texas hospitals close ERs, shift staff to address COVID patient surge

Love said the majority of the people in North Texas hospitals right now are unvaccinated and that many of the vaccinated people who are hospitalized are older in age and there out of precaution.

"This Delta variant is nothing to mess around with, and if you're unvaccinated, you're playing Russian roulette," Love said.

Love said in the last three years, about 23 rural hospitals in North Texas have had to close down due to financial reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened an already difficult situation for many of them.

Love also said when talking about hospitals in rural areas of North Texas, there oftentimes isn't a nearby medical center for people to go to if they need immediate attention.

"We have to support our rural hospitals," Love said. "Sometimes you have a life-threatening emergency, and you don't want to have to drive 40 or 50 miles."

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