DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is likely due to numerous factors including “mistaken beliefs” on reopening efforts and “COVID fatigue.”

Jenkins on Friday held a news conference to discuss the county’s latest efforts on responding to the virus and how it’s seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

Since Sept. 25, Jenkins said the county has seen a 27% increase in the census of COVID-19 illnesses, 44% increase in hospitalizations, 27% increase in emergency room visits and 30% increase in ICU bed usage.

Earlier this week, the county raised its COVID-19 threat level back to red — which recommends “Stay Home, Stay Safe” — as health officials brace for a possible spike in cases.

Jenkins said the cause of the increases is likely due to a number of different factors.

“The current sharp increases that we’re seeing is likely due to lax behaviors and cases coming from messaging that you’re hearing about openings and mistaken beliefs on many people’s parts who hear that or just have COVID fatigue, that it’s okay to get around more people outside of their home and have more contact,” Jenkins said. “And again, the doctors are telling us that is a big mistake.”

Bars, who had remained closed for a majority of the pandemic, were given the go-ahead to reopen last Wednesday, Oct. 14 at a 50% limited capacity, according to Gov. Greg Abbott. However, this only applied to regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations and if the county judges approved of it.

Bars in Dallas County remain closed, according to Jenkins. Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties filed to reopen bars.

Last week, Abbott also said businesses like movie theaters, bowling alleys and amusement parts that were limited to 50% capacity could increase to 75% capacity.

The rise in the threat level led to a warning that residents should start avoiding places like shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and any places where large crowds gather.

However, Jenkins told CBS 11 News that any future decisions to close businesses, if there is a spike, would come solely from the governor.

Jenkins also continued to insist that polling sites are safe as early voting began earlier this week. He said health officials prepared the sites “assuming we would be in the worst situation in the red.”

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