As of July 23, Tarrant County health officials report 338 hospitalizations attributed to COVID-19.

The tally has continued to rise in recent weeks, part of a trend that Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja continues to sound an alarm on.

“It’s a striking difference from two weeks ago, when we spoke, when we were at 190 [hospitalizations]—and that was an increase from two weeks before that, when we were at 90,” Taneja told the Tarrant County Commissioners Court on July 20. “In four weeks or so, we’ve almost quadrupled hospitalizations.”

Taneja also noted that Tarrant’s community spread level had recently been upgraded to high, saying spread is now happening relatively rapidly. On July 20, for instance, Tarrant Public Health data reported a positive test rate of 18.12%.

Robert Earley, the president and CEO of the JPS Health Network—Tarrant County’s tax-supported healthcare system—also presented to the commission July 20. In the portion of his presentation that focused on the recent uptick in cases and hospitalizations, Earley noted JPS facilities were caring for 31 hospitalizations at that time.

He encouraged unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated, citing a growing level of anxiety among his hospital system’s workforce.

“It makes a difference—particularly now, when you have a shell-shocked healthcare community thinking ‘are we into our next wave?’” Earley said.

Earley told commissioners he has been active in trying to persuade those who are vaccine-hesitant, noting that even though there are reported instances of breakthrough cases—cases where a vaccinated person still tests positive for the virus—those cases tend to be significantly less dangerous.

“If you get the flu vaccine, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu—but, in most cases, those who are flu-vaccinated have a better resistance and less [adversarial] challenges with the flu when they get the vaccine,” Earley explained. “It’s the same with COVID.”