DENTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Denton County reported on Tuesday, Dec. 8, three more residents died from COVID-19, as hospitals continue to deal with a surge in cases.

There are just six staffed ICU beds left in the county as of Tuesday evening.

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There were five available on Monday.

“Out of our five wonderful hospitals we have in Denton County, we only have a handful of staffed ICU beds left available,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads.

Texas Health Denton Presbyterian Hospital says it has ways to make more room for patients, but staff members are being stretched thin.

“We had our first COVID patient back on March 8th, and we’ve been in the world of COVID since then,” said Melissa Winans, chief nursing officer for Texas Health Denton. “So we’re on nine months, and the staff is getting tired, just like our community.”

Still, Winans assures people in Denton County not to hesitate if they need medical attention.

“They should absolutely not be fearful of coming to the hospital,” she said. “We are prepared to care for our community members.”

According to Denton County Public Health, more than half of the patients occupying ICU beds in the county’s hospitals have COVID-19.

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“We just really need the help of our community members to slow the spread,” Winans said. “We were already starting to see an increase in COVID before Thanksgiving, and we’re expecting another spike.”

She asks people to continue to remain vigilant about wearing masks and social distancing, especially as we get closer to Christmas.

“Worst thing to have is to host a party and have people become sick afterwards,” said Judge Eads. “That’s not the kind of Christmas present anyone wants.”

On Tuesday, DCPH also announced 560 new cases of COVID-19 in Denton County, of which 394 are active cases.

This increases the cumulative, countywide total to 27,181 COVID-19 cases. DCPH also reported 316 newly recovered cases of COVID-19, increasing the countywide recovery total to 19,692.

DCPH is providing free drive-thru COVID-19 testing on Friday, December 11, 2020 at North Central Texas College’s Exchange Parking Garage at 319 E. Sycamore St in Denton.

Eligible community members must reside in Denton County, pre-register by calling 940-349-2585, and have not previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Pre-registration is required with appointments starting at 8:00 a.m.

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Caroline Vandergriff