North Texas clinics overwhelmed by demand for COVID-19 tests, steep increase in new cases

Texas health officials said the rate of new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and deaths are now showing steeper increases than past surges.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases soared by 92 percent from last week. There were nearly 16,000 new cases and 60 deaths reported in the state Wednesday.

Currently, North Texas hospitals have more than 1,900 COVID-19 patients. That’s more than the entire state had four weeks ago.

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COVID-19 testing, which almost became an afterthought when vaccines became available, is now in high demand.

More than 64,000 coronavirus tests were conducted in Dallas County this past week, the most since early February.

Dr. Nick Karr, the founder of Sinai Urgent Care, said his clinics are overwhelmed and can’t hire staff fast enough.

"Staffing, as indicated, is one of our biggest struggles just because how quickly we saw this increase in volume. Staff are frustrated. Patients are frustrated. It’s worrisome as we start to head into flu season. Typically, this is our slow time of year when we’re ramping up and it caught us off guard a little bit. We’re really wondering what this fall and winter will look like," Dr. Karr said.

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On Thursday, the White House plans to unveil a new push to get students vaccinated by enlisting pediatricians to incorporate it into their back-to-school sports physicals.

With millions of students in organized sports, the administration said student athletes are in important path to vaccination.

"From the beginning we’ve known this virus is unpredictable and we have been relentless, relentless in our efforts to get people vaccinate," said Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator.

"Universally, as we look at our hospitalizations and as we look at our deaths, they are overwhelmingly unvaccinated people," added CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

The White House will also encourage more schools to host vaccination clinics.

Experts urge adults to get vaccinated in an effort to protect the children who are not eligible to get the shot.

RELATED: North Texas hospitals suffering staff shortages with coming COVID-19 surge