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A new high in hospitalizations

This is fine.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported Monday a pandemic high 11,351 hospitalizations from COVID-19.

This surpasses the previous all-time high of 10,893, which occurred on July 22.

The record comes in the midst of a holiday season public health experts worry could exacerbate the already rapidly spreading virus and following an increase in cases weeks after Thanksgiving.

This hospital data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test, and DSHS says some hospitals may be missing from the daily counts. As of Monday, the state is also reporting 49 deaths from COVID-19, a lagging indicator of the extent of transmission rates, and more than 12,800 new confirmed COVID-19 cases. Reported cases may have appeared lower the last few days because some local health departments did not report data to the state over the holiday week.

Earlier this month, Texas’ ICU capacity was already the lowest since the start of the pandemic, leaving health care experts worried hospitals could be pushed to the brink as coronavirus cases continue to climb. Across the state, COVID-19 patients occupy 17.8% of the state’s hospital beds, and only 745 staffed ICU beds are still available.

At a press conference Monday, Mark Escott, Austin’s interim medical director and health authority, said that this week alone, “ICU utilization” is up 62% in Travis County and that hospital beds could become scarce in a matter of weeks.

“Our projections forward into the new year continue to look worse and worse day after day,” Escott said. “I think right now it appears we’re going to enter 2021 in a state of emergency.”

This is fine:

This is fine:

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said he anticipated a major fall surge amid a wave of new infections in West Texas and the Panhandle.

Those areas are among the hardest hit in the country, he said.

“Up in Midland and places like that, it’s still a really tough area,” he said, adding, “In terms of surges, I’m maybe a little less worried about the Texas Medical Center. But in other parts of the state, it’s going to be a real concern.”

There are 745 ICU beds available across the state, according to data from the Department of State Health Services, the lowest number available since the pandemic’s surge during the summer. Among 63,679 staffed hospital beds, 13,416 are available statewide.

Further, 15 of the state’s Trauma Service Areas are reporting that more than 15 percent of their total hospital capacity is taken up by COVID-19 patients, crossing the threshold for what the state considers “high hospitalizations.”

At the Texas Medical Center, the weekly average of new COVID patients has more than doubled since early November, from 104 to 248. Medical center data from Sunday shows 1,594 total COVID patients and another 404 in the ICU. There are 1,298 total occupied ICU beds with hundreds more available, the data shows.

“The medical center has gotten a lot of heft, in terms of being able to accommodate COVID patients,” Hotez said.

[…]

The sporadic use of masks has contributed to the surge, said Hotez, adding that he doesn’t anticipate the number of statewide hospitalizations decreasing anytime soon. He noted that the number of beds is less of a concern than the number of trained staff available.

Hotez said he did not know how much Christmas gatherings would impact the number of infections. But he warned people that New Year’s celebrations would be the “best party the COVID virus can hope to have.”

“I would just say any kind of New Year’s celebration is fraught with risk ,” he said. “Because when you have this high level of transmission going on in the state, anytime you bring four or five people together, there’s a good likelihood they’re going to have COVID.”

I’m really scared for what the next few weeks may bring. Wear your mask, practice social distancing, avoid indoor gatherings, and try to survive until you can get vaccinated.

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9 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    This is weird. I read in Time magazine that in the 2017-2018 flu season, hospitals in some cities were putting up tents to treat over flow patients, restricting elective procedures, and having staff work extra hours.

    Since it was in 2017, it was, obviously, Trump’s fault. And now, it is happening again, and it is more his fault, because he didn’t fix it with his promise to repeal and replace.

    Let’s end Project Fear, live our lives, and think about meaningful ways to protect our health and the health of family, friends, coworkers, the community. Let’s embrace our mortality and stop being in denial that we can have eternal life by just hiding in our houses. Even then, household accidents such as falls, drowning, fire, choking, electrocution, carbon monoxide and other poisoning, are a leading cause of death. Let’s accept it but not dwell on it, and go on living.

    Happy new year.

  2. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman, I’m fairly certain the leading causes of death over the last decade has either been, far and away, cancer or heart disease. COVID is now either #1, 2, or 3, depending on age and ethnicity.

    And get this – heart disease and cancer isn’t contagious !!!

    I embraced my mortality years ago – at this point I’m just trying to extend it by masking up and staying safe and safely away from those not taking the same precautions. If that means I’m going to outlive the local watering holes and neighborhood restaurants (and Trump supporters), so be it.

    Interesting story about Hereford TX on texasmonthly.com…

  3. Manny says:

    Jason, you are the only one that lives in fear, you come up with all kinds of stuff that really has very little relevance. I have no idea why you do that unless you are one of the wall Trump supporters that like to throw stuff out to see what sticks.

    80,000 died during the 2017-2018 flu season, which was about 30% higher than normal.

    How many hospitals in Texas were being overwhelmed during that flu season?

    Yes, Trump and fools like you are responsible for the high number of death. Don’t you have a Black Lives Matter sign to go destroy, or a protest about using masks inside businesses to go to? If people had worn masks and limited their travel it would have saved lives and helped the economy but fools like you don’t believe in government intervention, except for almost everything that controls our lives. Traffic lights that tell us when to stop or go, seat belts that protect us whether we want protection or not. Houses built to withstand high winds. Cars that can absorb impacts, the list is very extensive of government doing what it does best to make our lives safe. Is there any way that you can go away on January 20th and if you come back, come back like a normal rational human?

  4. Manny says:

    By the way Jason, there is a new game for people like you it is called dodging cars in Houston freeways during the night. It was designed for people like you that have embraced their mortality.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Hi Manny, thanks for the insight, however, I didn’t used to be a Trump supporter, but now I am. We need to get him back in there. Trump is a hero. He got us the vaccines by the end of the year, as promised, with Operation Warp Speed. Also, Obama set up the most rigged, hacked election in history, in 2016. In 2020, Trump brought us the most secure, accurate election in history. Trump is a great president. I’m sorry to say, but Joe has a plan, which is more tests, even though they are a bunch of false positives and inaccuracies, cutting off at 40 cycles, for worthless results, and a surge in “cases.” [Just last week the World Health Organization finally admitted that the PCR testing creates false positives, and advises to manually adjust the threshold to account for “background noise” which may lead to a false positive.] Of course they knew this all along, but were manipulating the genius class, such as yourself.

    Joe’s other plan is that we can all wear masks for 100 days. Why 100? Why not 116? Or 94? There is no “science” behind that number. Read the Danish mask study…there is a little evidence that masks have much efficacy in real life. Yes, they can protect hamsters. I will make sure that my hamster Mr. Nibbs wears his mask. Now, please note, I am not saying that masks are entirely useless, or that you should not wear one, but the Science has yet to show through strong evidence that they make much difference. That is the Science. Joe is a mental midget. Trump has a talent for going bankrupt, but he damn well understands how to get results and get the vaccines out and have the most secure election ever. Obama in 2016 was unable to secure the election and the Russians hacked it. Probably because Obama was writing another one of his 5 autobiographies, his narcissist tribute tomes to himself took precedence over election security.

    By the way, I spend a lot of time rolling around Houston on two wheels….it makes you realize your fragility, let’s just say. I know you stopped riding your motorcycle because you didn’t want to wear a helmet. I wear a helmet on bicycle or motorcycle…it is a better intervention than the masks, I don’t know why you didn’t value trying to protect your head from cracking like Humpty Dumpty, but OK, you have indeed come to grips with your mortality.

    Happy new year.

  6. Manny says:

    I am not even sure if you are a real person or a bod. But giving Trump credit for the vaccine getting here quick is the privy of Trump idiots. I guess the fact that they were developed in Europe makes no difference? If you want to give credit to anyone give credit to Obama and Biden they deserve as much or more credit, by the way;

    “Dr. Yager said that thanks to advances in genomic sequencing, researchers successfully uncovered the viral sequence of SARS-CoV-2 in January 2020 — roughly 10 days after the first reported pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. The ability to fast-track research and clinical trials was a direct result of this worldwide cooperation.”

    Do you know the difference between a helmet and no helmet? Closed or open coffin.

    That is your problem Jason, you think only about yourself, the mask is to help protect others. My wearing a helmet or not was to protect me.

    Trump is not only an idiot, but he is also a racist, a bigot, a woman-hater, a Liar, a fascist lover, and his supporters support all of that.

    By the way, the vaccines are not getting to the people because Trump screwed that up also.

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-did-we-develop-a-covid-19-vaccine-so-quickly#Worldwide-collaboration

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    Manny, the vaccine is indeed here quickly thanks to Trump and Operation Warp Speed. Indeed mRNA vaccine was an existing technology and there was collaboration between countries, industry, non profits, government. But, The government funded the production and committed to buying the vaccines before the vaccines were tested. Without this advance buy, the vaccines would have been approved just this month, and production and distribution would have started now. Thanks to Trump, they are ready and being administered now, rather than 5 to 8 months from now.

    You are wrong about helmets. They do work. If you are tipped over at low speed and hit your head on a curb, a helmet makes a big difference. Of course, like any other safety equipment, it is no guarantee of survival in all cases. The mask doesn’t help much. That is the Science. But I am OK with wearing them. Your wearing a helmet does protect me, too. That inability to see the big picture is your problem. If you are in the ER getting your head epoxied back together, and I have to wait to get in after I have a heart attack due to my diet of McDonald’s, chips, beer, and cigarettes, and I have a bad outcome due to the delay, it’s your fault. Also, if my insurance increases due to your unwise health decision to ride without a helmet, that is money out of my pocket.

    Trump is an idiot, but not a fascist. Ironic that the people who criticize him for being a fascist have spent the past 9 months crying that he should assume the role of dictator and make national decrees. Biden is a racist, and has sexually harassed women also.

  8. Manny says:

    How would my wearing a helmet protect you, but your argument is why should wear masks and follow the guidelines to protect others.

    Amazing you defend Trump not being a fascist but not Democrats being socialists.

    I really don’t understand why you fascists keep pushing the lies that your leader Trump espouses.

    I really don’t want to constantly respond to your lying, which you are very good at doing. Like Bill, you are part of a disinformation program to push fascism.

    But unlike AstraZeneca, which has also obtained funding from the U.S. government, Pfizer did not receive a contract for its earlier research and development efforts — only for the doses and their distribution.

    If you stay in a cave and don’t come within 100 miles of humans you won’t get Covid. If frogs had wings they would not bump their ass every time they jumped. If

  9. Manny says:

    Jason our resident fascist, tell me why Trump would take credit for helping speed up a vaccine for something that was a hoax and would disappear quickly?

    George W. Bush if anyone should get the credit, but since the vaccines are not being distributed as was promised who gets the blame for that? That was part of operation warp speed.