With more than 248,000 cases and 3,148 deaths, the spread of coronavirus remains "substantial" in Tarrant County, said Vinny Taneja, director of Tarrant County Public Health, at a Commissioners Court meeting March 16.

Taneja urged residents to continue following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health guidelines, such as face masks, washing hands and social distancing. He also raised caution about the effects of spring break and recent trends of large gatherings.

"If we congregate in large gatherings with no public health measures in place, there’s a chance cases will return," Taneja said. "At some point the numbers will get low enough where we don’t have to worry about these things, but currently we’re not there."

According to Taneja, 5.72% of hospital capacity in Tarrant County is occupied by COVID-19 patients, including 65 ICU beds. In the past week, there have been a total of 846 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Trauma Service Area E, a 19-county region that includes Tarrant, Denton and Dallas counties, Taneja said.

The county is currently operating seven vaccination sites with a capacity to administer 91,000 shots per week, he said.

As of March 17, a total of 507,903 doses have been administered in Tarrant County. According to the TCPH COVID-19 dashboard, 94% of vaccinations, or 475,878, have gone to Tarrant County residents. At the county level, 16% of residents, or 339,054, have received at least one dose; 164,482 residents, or 7% of the county population, have been fully vaccinated.

The city of Colleyville, at 33.47%, has the highest percentage of residents in north Tarrant County who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In comparison, a total of 31.14% of Southlake residents have received at least one dose; 23.34% of Keller residents have received at least one dose; 22.59% of Grapevine residents have received at least one dose; and 11.65% of Fort Worth residents have received at least one dose.

Additionally, a total of 881,000 registrations for the COVID-19 vaccine have been confirmed through the TCPH registration portal.

State officials announced earlier this month that the age requirement for residents to become eligible for their shots will drop to everyone age 50 and older beginning March 15.

Previously, all state residents age 65 and up were eligible. In early March, the Texas Department of State Health Services also expanded the eligibility requirements for vaccination to the education sector, which includes teachers, staff and bus drivers for preschool, primary and secondary schools, as well as Head Start programs and licensed child care providers, officials said.

In addition, both Trinity Metro in Tarrant County and the Denton County Transportation Authority are offering free rides for residents to vaccine sites. Both public transit services announced they will maintain face mask policies in line with the federal mask mandate. All agency personnel and customers are required to wear a mask while on any service vehicle or when inside any transit center.

Tarrant County and noncounty residents can register for the COVID-19 vaccine here.