DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing in North Texas, and researchers with UT Southwestern say there could be a surge this fall worse than the summer of 2020, if current trends continue.

The report shows hospitalizations for the virus are climbing.

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Over the past two weeks, there’s been a 40% increase in Dallas County and a 65% jump in Tarrant County.

“Even though it’s not nearly as bad as it was in January, and we’re thankful for that, we’ve got almost 20% of patients in adult ICU that are there because of COVID,” said Stephen Love, the president and CEO of Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

According to Love, there are nearly 800 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Trauma Service E, which covers North Texas.

That’s the highest number it’s been since the middle of March.

Public health experts say the increase in hospitalizations comes as vaccination rates have slowed, the more contagious Delta variant continues to spread, and more people are out socializing.

“We’re just having family fun night with my daughter and my husband,” said Laura Morales, who was out Sunday at Klyde Warren Park.

The pandemic is still on people’s minds with COVID cases on the rise again.

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“We really haven’t been getting too close to anybody,” said James Beverly, who also brought his family to the park for the afternoon. “We’ve just been to ourselves but yea, it’s a bad problem.”

Tarrant County Public Health recently upgraded the community spread level to high. Nearly 1,500 new cases of the virus were reported this weekend.

Right now, the risk level in Dallas County is yellow or “proceed cautiously.”

“Many people continue to get infected with COVID, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated,” said Christian Grisales with the Dallas County Health and Human Services.

The new cases still aren’t enough to persuade some people who haven’t gotten the shot.

“It’s not something I would get,” said Beverly. “Kind of cautious about it.”

But families who’ve already rolled up their sleeves, along with public health officials, want those who are unvaccinated to reconsider.

“We’re not trying to scare people, but if you’re unvaccinated, and especially if you aren’t wearing a mask and you’re in large groups, you’re playing Russian roulette with the Delta variant,” Love said.

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Public health officials encourage people who haven’t received the vaccine yet to talk to their doctor.

Caroline Vandergriff