DALLAS - A surge in COVID cases and a change in messaging from some elected leaders may finally be leading to more vaccinations.
The CDC shows vaccination numbers went up over the weekend.
Nationwide, about 657,000 vaccines were given Saturday and 780,000 on Sunday. That is up from a 7-day rolling average of about 583,000 a day.
It's welcome news for healthcare workers, including those in North Texas who are dealing with a flood of new COVID patients.
Parkland Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Chang says right now the largest demographic of hospitalized covid patients is people in their 30s and 40s and unvaccinated. He says he's extremely worried about the fall when most students will head back to school for in-person learning.
"Listen, this is crazy. Here we go. It's like Groundhog Day again," he said. "It's really unbelievable, I'll tell you. It's something we really, really hate to see."
Over the weekend, Dr. Chang says the number of COVID hospitalizations at Parkland doubled.
"A month ago, we were at seven patients. And now, I'm looking at 70 patients," he said. "And guys, this is a fully preventable situation."
Dr. Chang says every COVID patient currently at Parkland is unvaccinated. He's worried the virus will continue to mutate as kids head back to school.
"They're going to mix with each other. They're going to pass it around and bring it home to the exact that demographic of 30- to 40-year-olds who are parents, and that's just going to get passed around perpetually," he warned.
Some Dallas ISD schools start back next week with in-person learning. And like every other school district, they have no authority to impose mask requirements. Administrators are holding virtual parent forums to help answer questions and address COVID concerns.
"We certainly recommend face masks during the school day," said Liliana Valadez with Dallas ISD. "We do our safety protocols. We're working with our health services department on if there is a case what to do from there."
Parkland already has one dedicated COVID ward that never closed down.
A spokeswoman says they are monitoring caseloads to determine if more wards are necessary. She added that opening the tactical care unit back up would be a last resort as it is extremely disruptive to the ability to care for the surgical needs of Dallas County citizens.
Dr. Chang says there's a simple solution to reverse the course of the pandemic.
"We are the cause of our own problem," he said. "If we simply got enough of our population vaccinated, we would decrease the number of infections to almost zero."
According to the DDFW Hospital Council, there are 1,233 COVID-19 patients in hospitals that make up our region. That is an increase of over 100 patients from just a day ago.
Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator. So as case numbers increase, the council anticipates hospitalizations will, too.