covid-19 vaccine

North Texas Doctors, EMS Concerned Over Rise in COVID-19 Cases

'This is real,' says Fort Worth ambulance official

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Doctors and other frontline workers across North Texas are noticing an increase in patients with COVID-19 or its symptoms, leading to concern about the coming months.

Despite months of promising declines, DFW is finding that the storm has yet to pass.

“We thought we were going to have a handle on this,” said Dr. Natalia Gutierrez of the Texas Health Physicians Group.

The director of the Fort Worth Health Department is sounding the alarm as COVID-19 cases surge. Scott Gordon reports.

Gutierrez primarily works at Texas Health Family Care in Carrollton.

Just this weekend, the doctor saw two patients with COVID-19 for the first time in months.

“One was a young person that was not vaccinated, and that person has COVID-pneumonia,” she said. “The other person was vaccinated, an older person, I want to say maybe 77. That person was vaccinated. However, the case for that person is very mild so that person is already recovering.”

EMS crews at Medstar, serving Tarrant County and nearby communities, are also reporting a higher frequency of patients with a potential COVID-infection after three months of steady declines.

There is no single group of people impacted.

“They are older Americans, they are young folks, they are working, they are homeless,” said Matt Zavadsky, MS-HAS, NREMT, chief transformation officer at Medstar.

The increase means pre-hospital assessments will now ask patients if they are vaccinated against the virus.

All patients are evaluated before being transported to the hospital.

Zavadsky said that during the peak of the pandemic, Medstar responded to 100 to 110 patients a day.

Last month saw the lowest level of patients at 49 a day, he said.

However, so far in July, 53 people a day have called 911 with symptoms of the virus.

The number includes nine individuals who were in cardiac arrest and died at home.

“This is real,” said Zavadsky to those who question the reality of the situation facing Texas and the country. “It could be either because of the relaxation of some of the travel and other things that are happening. It could be because of the delta variant. Quite frankly it doesn’t matter. The fact is that people appear to be getting the coronavirus, vaccinated or not, but vaccines really do help you.”

In Tarrant County, the testing positivity rate is 15 percent -- the highest since March.

Fort Worth health director Brandon Bennett said the numbers are headed in the wrong direction and pleaded with those who are unvaccinated to get the shot.

"This Delta variant of the virus is going to move through that segment like wildfire," Bennett said. "If people don't get vaccinated now, even a few weeks if they wait, that's going to be too late. And we know this."

Bennett said the number of vaccinations in Tarrant County -- once 30,000 a day -- has slowed to a trickle. The busiest clinic, at La Gran Plaza mall, is giving only 25 shots a day now, he said.

Scientists stress the vaccine is safe. Dr. Gutierrez urges the public to talk to your doctor and not to rely on false claims made on social media.

“If you’re in a car and you have a car accident and you had a seatbelt on, you may have a bruise from the seatbelt,” she said, “You may say the seatbelt injured you. At the same time, it prevented your death. So, the vaccine will prevent your death.”

Meanwhile, Medstar will be partnering with faith groups and neighborhood associations to bring additional mobile vaccination clinics into communities.

To register for an upcoming clinic, click here.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

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