TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant County is now under a public health warning as virus case numbers reach what Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja called “dire” levels.

The tougher language comes as one in five patients in hospitals in the county are now confirmed to have the virus. Intensive care beds are now 92% occupied according to a presentation Taneja gave to county commissioners during a meeting Tuesday morning.

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The warning does not trigger any new limits or actions but is a stronger recognition of the county’s current situation related to the virus.

Taneja asked business to consider voluntarily reducing capacity, down to 50% for essential businesses, 25% for non-essential. He asked restaurants to consider closing indoor dining rooms and for bars to close completely as cases surge.

He also asked schools to consider shutting down sports or prohibiting fans from attending.

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The county does not have the authority to makes the changes on its own, as they fall under executive orders issued by Governor Greg Abbott. County Judge Glen Whitley said he spoke to Abbott’s chief of staff last week to ask for a discussion of what the next steps would be but said he had not heard back and currently doesn’t have meetings or phone calls scheduled.

The county is nearing a point where Gov. Abbott’s order would trigger an automatic reduction in capacity for businesses. When hospitalizations reach 15% of capacity for the local Trauma Service Area, for seven days, businesses must reduce to 50% and bars must close.

The North Central Texas area is at 14.39%, according to Taneja’s presentation.

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