WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Health District is reporting one new COVID-19 related death on Monday and 162 new cases from over the weekend in Wichita County.

The recent surge in cases prompted local health officials to address Wichita County in a news conference, hoping the community listens.

After 560 new cases just last week, health officials are asking people to do all they can now before the strain is too much.

“I’m asking for your help,” United Regional Health Care System President and CEO Phyllis Cowling said. “Please comply with masking and social distancing, please be hyper-vigilant.”

“We’re just please asking you to take this very seriously right now,” Dr. Daunne Peters said.

There are 986 new cases from October 1 to October 16 in Wichita County.

“We have a shared responsibility to each other,” Cowling said.

The surge in numbers resulted in COVID-19 related patients at United Regional doubling from 37 to 74 in one week.

“Otherwise our local health resources are going to be strained, potentially overwhelmed,” Cowling said.

Cowling adds capacity is a moving target. Right capacity is at 250, with 240 patients currently in house.

The back-up plan is looking at surrounding area hospitals, anticipating good bed availability throughout the region.

That, along with the 160 new cases and 54 new hospitalizations announced, prompted local health officials to hold a news conference pleading to the public about personal safety moving forward.

“Is it allergies or is it covid? And lean more towards it’s COVID, especially with the disease burden in our community today and take early precautions,” Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health Director Lou Kreidler said.

This is the first time we’ve seen this type of news conference expressing these concerns and Mayor Santellana said people need to take notice.

“When they come forward and say there are things we need to be doing, the community needs to react, we need to change our behavior,” Santellana said. “I think it’s a good reminder to get right back on pace and putting our masks back on and limiting events and people we’re hanging out with.”

Cowling even added COVID patients they’ve seen recently are generally sicker than before.

Whether that’s due to the season change, schools opening, or more businesses opening, health officials are urging people to stay masked up.