FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – This week, Tarrant County surpassed 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Nearly 700 people in the county have died from the virus.

“We’ve had COVID only around for about seven months, so that’s a huge number,” said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. “Cases are starting to go up, hospitalizations are starting to go up.”

COVID-19 numbers are trending up in Tarrant County, as schools and colleges reopen and businesses increase capacity.

“It’s difficult to find a balance between having normalcy, whatever we can find, and keeping the volume low,” Taneja said.

Even the President of the United States isn’t immune to the virus.

“It’s a grim reminder that COVID doesn’t care,” Taneja said. “It’s a virus. It doesn’t spare anybody. If you’re vulnerable, it will come hit you if you’re not being careful.”

Tarrant County Public Health was getting frustrated by the delays in getting case numbers from the labs, so the department launched a new online, self-reporting tool for residents who test positive.

This lets the agency speed up contract tracing efforts.

“That way we won’t be missing people that we need to connect with for multiple days while waiting for results,” he said.

The problem is thousands of people with the virus didn’t respond to the agency’s calls, texts or letters.

“And that’s frustrating,” Taneja said.

The county has also launched a pilot program for at-home testing to make it easier for some residents.

To help keep the economy open, the agency is urging people to self-report a positive test result and to answer their call. 

“We’re not here to make anybody’s life harder,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure the spread of illness is stopped.”

Caroline Vandergriff