Dallas County officials say COVID-19 numbers once again trending in the wrong direction

Dallas County health officials said the number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are going in the wrong direction.

The county judge and health director say "COVID fatigue" has led to folks becoming relaxed in their behavior. As a result, data shows cases and hospitalizations are once again on the rise. The county judge says just because places are open for business doesn't mean you should be out among the masses.

The county on Friday reported 20 new COVID -19 deaths, along with an increase in cases.

Judge Clay Jenkins and Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang also said cases increased 94% from Aug. 22 to Oct. 8. The number of available ICU beds in the county has decreased, which is another bad sign. A nurse manager at Parkland says currently there are 70 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

“Listen to the doctors. Here in North Texas, the numbers are now going against us. There is no dispute in the medical community in that. Numbers don’t lie. The numbers are going against us. We have got to tighten up our behavior,” Jenkins said.

He strongly urged people to go back to the habits that helped lower the numbers in August and September such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds.

“We are at a very critical point in our fight against COVID right now,” Jenkins said. “This should be the time when more people are outside, they’re socially distant. It’s easier for us to follow the rules and yet it’s a time when, unfortunately, because of COVID fatigue, less people are doing the things that doctors are telling us will keep us safe.”

“This is the new normal. We know what we need to do. We just need to do it,” Dr. Huang said.

Early this week, Dallas County went from orange or “Extreme Caution” to red or “Stay Home Stay Safe” on the color-coded alert-style COVID-19 monitoring scale that was first introduced back in May.

RELATED: Dallas County reverts back to highest risk level for COVID-19 threat

Under the highest risk level, residents are urged, but not legally required, to stay home unless performing essential activities.

“It’s not a time to go back to our pre-COVID normal,” Jenkins said. “It’s once again a time to revisit those things that work so effectively for us when we got those numbers down.”

Dr. Huang says the county has health and sanitation protocols in place at early voting locations to ensure voters are safe.

“They’re cleaning all the surface. There’s hand sanitizer there,” he said. “Vote early. Don’t wait until Election Day the more we can spread it out through early voting.”

Another concern is the onset of flu season.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson got his flu shot at Walgreens Friday morning. He's urging folks to do the same as both viruses can lead to hospitalizations and death.

“Cases could start getting back up to that 900 a day range as early as next week,” he warned. “And when you add that to flu season, that could be a very scary situation in terms of overburdening our hospitals.”

Jenkins said he does not believe it will be safe for door-to-door trick or treating this year, calling it a “recipe for a super spreader.”

The county is offering COVID-19 testing and free flu shots at both the Ellis Field House and Eastfield College.