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'I want to see people wearing masks,' says Dallas mayor in response to COVID-19 cases spike

"The data is clear. Our numbers are headed in the wrong direction," Mayor Eric Johnson said.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson led his Wednesday afternoon news conference with a simple statement: "Wear a mask." 

"This is the single most important thing that you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19," Johnson said, seated at Dallas City Hall, wearing a mask. 

Though there is no blanket mask requirement, Dallas County does require businesses to make customers and employees wear masks. 

County health officials reported another 394 confirmed cases of coronavirus Wednesday. Four additional deaths from the disease were also reported. 

"I know we all want to go back to normal and return to life as we knew it back in February," the mayor said. "But COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Dallas County. The data is clear. Our numbers are headed in the wrong direction."

RELATED: COVID-19 updates: Texas hospitalizations hit new peak 12th day in a row with nearly 4,100 patients reported

Johnson, along with Dallas COVID-19 health and healthcare access czar Dr. Kelvin Baggett and Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz, spoke at the news conference after Dallas County reported 470 patients had been hospitalized for COVID-19 Wednesday.

The mayor will meet with the DFW Hospital Council and other Dallas County officials Thursday about whether the county needs to prepare to use the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for additional hospital space. 

It would take a week to get the site ready for patients, Vaz said.

Federal funding for testing at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House runs out on June 30. 

Johnson and Vaz said they have been working to replace that testing capacity.

RELATED: Gov. Abbott says Texas is facing 'massive' COVID-19 outbreak

All three men reiterated the need for Dallasites to wear a mask, but none as strongly as Johnson.

"It can't continue to be politicized, this issue of wearing masks. Everywhere I go in this city, I want to see people wearing masks. It's just that simple," the mayor said. 

He said thinking about it "keeps me up at night." 

"I want to see us beat this thing but its going to take wearing masks until we get a vaccine. That's just what it boils down to."

Watch the full news conference below:

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