Remember a year ago at this time? After the initial confusion and panic to find hand sanitizers and masks had calmed down a bit, North Texas non-profit fundraisers were making gut-wrenching decisions about the fall and winter events. Word was sent daily about postponements, cancellations and something called “virtual” get-togethers. It was a brutal time as a virus created havoc.
But that all changed this past spring when COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases started diving. Folks were positively giddy about getting out-and-about and not wearing those darn old face coverings. It was like being on a long ocean voyage through a nightmare of a storm and finally getting ready to get to safe ground. The only problem with this scenario is that the ship hasn’t made it to port yet.
It seems that healthcare organizations and experts are concerned about the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally. No, the numbers don’t compare to the onslaught of last year. That’s the good news. But according to a UT Southwestern Medical Center report issued yesterday [Wednesday, July 21] based on data as of Monday, July 19, if the current situation — i.e., the surge of dominant variants like Delta, vaccination avoidance, lack of masks and social distancing, etc. — doesn’t change, there is a real threat of returning to the bleak days of 2020 by October.
According to the report, “Hospital volumes for COVID–19 have increased 43% compared to one week ago, 89% compared to two weeks ago, and 156% compared to one month ago.”
The 16-page report warns, “The total number of people hospitalized for COVID–19 in North Texas is expected to increase sharply over the next several weeks. Hospital volumes have risen 89 percent over the past two weeks, and the model (slide 5) projects, at the current pace of vaccinations, levels of hospitalization by October that approach those seen in the surge in the first months of this year and substantially higher than those during the surge last summer. The predicted increases are partially due to climbing hospitalization rates. This is likely attributable to the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant in the region, which has been linked to more severe disease in some studies. The increasing number of new cases of COVID–19 and subsequent hospitalizations also reflects the large numbers of individuals who are not yet vaccinated and therefore particularly susceptible to infection.
“It is still possible to avoid if vaccination volumes return to prior levels (see slide 5 for projected scenarios if we double current vaccination rates). People under 65 now make up the largest share of hospital admissions in most North Texas counties, so it remains important to increase vaccination rates in this age group. For those who have not yet been vaccinated, continued personal adherence to indoor masking, physical distancing, and other interventions recommended by health experts will be necessary to protect the health of Texans who are currently unvaccinated or who may be immunocompromised.”
Moving forward, decide how you can best help stop this trend. We’ve won the battle to bring down the numbers from last year, but we haven’t won the war against the pandemic yet.
* Graphic courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center