Parkland Hospital in Dallas is opening its fourth unit to treat COVID-19 patients

For the first time in five days, Dallas County did not have a record number of new coronavirus cases.

But cases are still high and hospitalizations continue to rise.

Parkland Hospital is getting ready to open another unit just to treat COVID-19 patients.

The head of nursing at Parkland Hospital, Kathy Doherty, said they have been busy for months, but the last two weeks have taken things to another level.

Because of the increased number of beds needed, the hospital is about to open its fourth COVID-19 unit.

MORE: Coronavirus Continued Coverage

Dallas County reported 544 new cases Wednesday and seven deaths.

It's lower than the record number reported Tuesday, but still on trend with the surge in cases and hospitalizations over the weeks.

“Patients are coming in much sicker than before. They would come in, and a couple of days, they would get sicker, they are getting sick from the start,” Doherty explained.

She said Parkland is getting ready to open its fourth unit for coronavirus patients after putting its third unit online just last week.

“It’s a herculean effort to do this, to create a space that has the right air flow to support the safety of the staff and patients,” Doherty said. “Each time we open a unit we say, ‘OK, this is going to be the last one.’ Unfortunately, we are up to number four now, that just means the volume is going higher and higher.”

Dallas County officials report nearly 30 percent of tests being conducted are coming back positive, and an increasing number of cases continue to be tied to large social gatherings, like house parties.

That's why Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is worried about the July 4th holiday.

“On these holidays, all 28 million Texans, all 7.6 million North Texans, do something to celebrate and there is a real chance for people to do things they would not normally do and let their guard down and these bad things happen, and two weeks later we see them,” Jenkins said.

Doherty said she has seen more people wearing masks.

She hopes it continues.

“It’s mission critical to what we do. I wear a mask when I am at work and talking to my staff. I also wear one when I am at home and my children wear them wherever we go. Even though they think they are fine and invincible, I have to remind them that you don’t know if someone around you is sick and not know it yet or you may have it and give it to someone you care about,” she said.

Since June 1, more than half of all positive cases in Dallas County are people under 40.

MORE: Interactive map of Texas COVID-19 cases