A few words from the CEO of the Medical Center

From an interview he did with Lisa Gray.

What we’re seeing, sadly, is more of the same, only with more intense numbers. The number of people who are testing positive in our community continues to escalate month over month. The test positivity rate is now at 15.1 percent.

But probably the most accurate reflection is our hospitalizations. We just reached an all-time high: 421 people were admitted to our hospitals for COVID yesterday.

Step back for a second and look at that relative to the entire pandemic. Back in June and July, we had two weeks where the average number of hospital admissions was over 300. That was in the second wave.

Fast forward to wave three: We had four weeks that averaged over 300.

Now we are into our second week with no slowing the pace. At 421 today, we are seeing the highest peak of all of the pandemic going back 18 months now.

It’s largely a pandemic of the unwilling — people unwilling to be vaccinated. Now 44% of Houstonians are unvaccinated. Those are the vast majority of the people that are showing up in our emergency rooms and and in our ICUs. They’re very sick.

Many people thought that they were young, and therefore their immune system would be strong enough to protect them. That is not the case with this deadly delta variant, which is three times more transmissible than the earlier alpha variant.

Our hospitals’ staffs are 18 months into this. They’re exhausted.

And we have far fewer nurses than we used to have. They’re being recruited to other states, like Florida, that are even worse off than Texas.

The saddest fact is, 18 percent of all the new cases so far in August are children.

With the alpha variant, everyone thought, “OK, it’s 65 and older.” So we went after the nursing homes, and we did a brilliant job at protecting the elderly population and those who are immunocompromised.

But now, that vulnerable population is children under 12, who are not able to be vaccinated. We are predicting a mess in our schools. With nearly 20 percent of new cases being children, now we’re going to huddle them together in schools? Some may have masks. Some may not. It’s a recipe for disaster.

You can read the rest or give it a listen, but his answer to the first question tells you most of what you need to know. Hospitals around the state have been facing a similar crisis. I keep harping on this because it needs to be harped on, as we have a governor who can’t follow his own dictum about “responsible behavior”, a felonious Attorney General who’s soliciting snitches so he can go after rogue mask mandates, and a Legislature that wants to ban mask mandates forever. This is what we’re up against.

I don’t know if I’d call this “good news”, but the projections say we can see the beginning of the end from here.

While hospitalization numbers are nearing the heights they reached during the state’s most fatal surge in January, public health projections indicate that the latest wave will result in fewer deaths — mostly because senior citizens are widely vaccinated and hospital patients are now much younger. Still, state health officials are preparing for the worst, preemptively ordering a fleet of five mortuary trailers from the federal government in case infections spiral.

Public health experts still expect at least some increase in coronavirus deaths over the coming weeks, as fatalities are a lagging indicator — cases rise first, then hospitalizations, then intensive care usage, then deaths.

Now, the state is averaging about 100 daily deaths, a number not expected to exceed 150 over the next month before tapering off. That’s nowhere near the 350 COVID deaths per day that the state saw in January.

“We’ll go up some, but again, not to the levels that we saw back in January,” said Dr. David Lakey, the vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer at the University of Texas system, referencing the forecasts.

Still, the precipitous rise in hospitalizations is a cause for concern. More than 12,000 Texans were in the hospital with the virus on Wednesday, with dozens of Texas hospitals running out of ICU beds (during the winter surge, hospitalizations peaked at just over 14,000). Patients are younger than they were in the first two waves of the virus, and almost everyone facing severe illness is unvaccinated.


Projection models following Texas’ daily COVID case and hospitalization counts anticipate a rise in deaths in the near future. By mid-September, a model offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the Lone Star State will see about 790 deaths per week, or roughly 113 per day.

Another model, produced by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, projects about 125 deaths per day by mid-September in a worst-case scenario. In both forecasts, it appears that the state has already seen the brunt of its COVID deaths.

That’s largely because the vast majority of Texas’ over-65 population — those most vulnerable to the coronavirus — have received at least one dose of the vaccine, experts said.

“Those that were most at risk of having severe disease have some protection, and that’s good protection because of the vaccine,” Lakey said.

While a spike in hospitalizations and ICU bed usage does portend fatalities, the relationship between those data points will be less “linear” during the third wave, he said. It remains to be seen whether young patients will have other, long-term side effects of the virus — what some are calling “long COVID.”

Deaths will also decrease as more people become vaccinated or recover from the illness, said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metric science at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The institute’s researchers estimate that about 74 percent of Texans will be immune to the delta variant, either through infection or vaccination, by Dec. 1.

“The virus is running out of people to infect,” he said.

The forecasts should not be interpreted as an assured outcome, though. Public buy-in on safety precautions, including mask-wearing, will ultimately determine the trajectory of the third wave.

In other words, don’t expect a best-case outcome, because we’re not allowed to do the things we need to do to make this less awful. Note also that while extensive vaccinations among older folks will help to limit fatalities, there will still be an excess of deaths in the coming weeks because of the overfilled hospitals – people with other serious conditions will die as a result, as was the case in the previous waves. Now is a very bad time to have a heart attack or be in a car crash.

At least there is a rise in the rate of people getting vaccinated, now that the threat is so much higher. Some of that is the result of mandates and restrictions on unvaccinated people, some is due to pressures and enticements from employers, and some is due to straight up financial rewards. Whatever it takes, whatever it takes.

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10 Responses to A few words from the CEO of the Medical Center

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    You are certainly allowed to do the things that you must do to make this less awful. The vaccines don’t work. Rates are higher than before they came out with the Trump vaccines. I have told everyone to not leave the house, at all, and that is my advice, from the best scientific standpoint I can see. There is never going to be a COVID zero. It is always going to be out there, and if you leave the house, you are at risk.

    Also, the men I have heard of who died from this, got it after their wives tested positive. So, you should eject any household members from her house, and remain there, until further orders.

    If you do not comply, we may get what is happening in Australia. They come to your house, if you are ordered to isolate and you are not at the house, they will get you, and punish you severely.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats are keeping us safe by handing out money to their friends. I just saw on my TV set how the County Judge who held a grudge as learned politics very quickly. She approved the $11 million dollars of federal tax moneys given to Elevate Industries, a one woman company, that worked for the Clinton campaign, and is now being given $11 million in cash to tell us to get the not working, experimental vaccines. No wonder the city and county didn’t get GLO moneys. They just waste the federal money on their bootlickers.

    JUST stay safe. You don’t need Abbott to keep you safe.

  2. C.L. says:


  3. J says:

    Dr. Hochman with the latest news bulletin from his air conditioner, which has been talking to him for some time now.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    J, if you ignore my advice to wear your mask and stay at home, and then you get sick, it is on you. My medical community agrees that the vaccines will not prevent you from getting the virus nor from spreading the virus. If you need Abbott to command you to do this, you lack Common Sense.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Here is a link to the story about the Elevate contract. I am only asking Harris County to give me 8 million dollars and I will yell at everyone WEAR YER MASK!

  6. policywonqueria says:


    Texas biz interests have started filing amicus curiae briefs backing the Governor on GA-38 in the name of regulatory certainty that only a unitary commander in chief can provide. They rail against local governments causing a patchwork in the regulatory environment and bewail the inconvenience it causes for corporate compliance.

    Below is Professor Beal’s response to the clamor on behalf of for-profit entities in a follow-up letter that he submitted as a friend not only of the court, but of the adults and children in Texas.


    Re: In re Greg Abbott in His Official Capacity as Governor of the State of Texas
    Tex. Sup. Ct.  No: 21-0686

    Amicus Letter Brief

    Dear Honorable Justices of the Texas Supreme Court:

    I am  not receiving any compensation from anyone in the preparation of
    and filing of this amicus letter.

    The massive transmission of the deadly covid variant has commenced in
    Texas schools and will explode next week with most schools in session.
    Hospitals are already at capacity, medical personnel are exhausted and soon
    schools will again be shut down. This Court is confronted with undisputed facts
    and clear and unambiguous law yet no final order on the merits is forthcoming.

    This delay in judicial action to declare Governor Abbott’s gross miscarriage of
    justice to be void is already resulting in thousands of personal injuries and

    The amicus briefs in support of the Governor are flowing in and
    emphasizing the arguments of the Attorney General with this Court preparing to
    hold a temporary injunction proceeding and plod along as if this was a normal
    case. The Governor and Attorney General came to this Court screaming an
    “emergency,” but when they received temporary relief from this Court, all need to move quickly somehow seems to have dissipated.

    How can this Court justify such non-action when millions of kids have
    already started school and millions more will start Monday?

    They will be continually exposed to the deadly covid variant that is now
    killing people of all ages as they are forced to breathe everyone’s
    expelled breath in close quarters throughout the entire day. If they do
    not get sick, they will transmit it to their parents, grandparents and friends. When
    the infected persons get severely ill, we all know the ICU units throughout the state are already full. And this Court plods along for a TI hearing?

    Why not an immediate final order on the merits when all is so clear?

    This Court needs nothing more in order to render judgment. The facts and law are
    undisputed and the mischaracterization of the facts and law by the Attorney
    General are clearly apparent.

    The Attorney General on page 1 of both of his briefs and all the amicus
    briefs filed in his favor talk of the Governor’s “order” to allow free choice of Texas
    citizens as to wearing masks in public and getting vaccines. They assert this order
    supersedes any orders of local government and this is buttressed by Chapter 418
    labeling the Governor “Commander in Chief.” Ah, I bet Governor Abbott loves
    that label! This argument is the main tenet throughout the Attorney General’s
    briefs and the amicus briefs.

    As this Court must realize, it is wholly incorrect. When the Governor “orders” citizens to exercise their free choice, that is no order at all. (“I command you to do what you want because there is no law to the contrary”). Citizens need no order or command or blessing from a Commander in Chief when there is no law of any kind telling them what to do or not to do. That is the essence of a rule of law society!

    What the Governor is really saying is “I have totally capitulated. I am
    supposed to run this show, but I will not and I will leave it to you good citizens
    to use your common sense to make the right decision. No more draconian
    orders from me to have you wear a mask … my goodness what was I thinking in
    March of 2020? I am so sorry but now I see the light!”

    The ultimate sacrilege is the Attorney General and all the amici assert that
    the “non-order” of the Governor literally prevents any order of any kind from any
    local governmental entity. Really? So, if the Governor “orders” he will do nothing
    to prohibit personal injury or death from the oncoming hurricane, every other
    governmental entity in the state must stand by and do nothing while the
    hurricane maims and kills our Texas citizens? Those citizens must simply use their
    own good sense to remain safe and to adequately protect their property. And if
    local government dares to take action, the Attorney General runs to this Court to
    prevent local governments from preventing their citizens from drowning?

    Can this become any more absurd?

    And what is the difference between a hurricane and a pandemic? How are
    the hospitals doing, enough medical staff and what are all those bodies stacked in
    the trailer truck?

    Do we live in some dystopian dynasty that no governmental body may act
    without the direct blessing of the dictator? Where is that in Chapter 418?

    There is absolutely no language in Chapter 418 that in anyway could justify
    such a grant of power to the Governor. There is not one word that prohibits a
    local governmental body adopting measures to cope with disaster the same
    as the Governor could if he chose to do so, and  even more protective ones.
    Most importantly of all, there is not one word that says local governmental
    entities are powerless to exercise their own powers when the
    Governor has decided not to act in a disaster himself.

    The brief’s assertion that the label “Commander in Chief” has such a meaning has been asserted with absolutely no justification. Clearly, it means that when the Governor jumps into the fight, he gets to run the show as to the minimum to be done and how it will be coordinated. However, when the Governor drops out for whatever reason, it is utterly ridiculous to believe the Legislature intended for the people of Texas to then be subject to personal injury and death because those local governmental entities must simply stand still and watch it occur.

    The answer is so easy and fits on a single page as I set forth in my amicus of August 18. The order that the Governor DID issue, GA-38, is the order that prohibits all local governmental entities from requiring individuals to wear masks in school or other governmental institutions. That results in denying the
    governmental entities the right to protect children and adults by utilizing the
    second most effective tool in preventing the transmission of the deadly covid

    The Governor may only issue orders to attempt to prevent bodily harm and death, not to make such harm more likely to occur. Therefore, GA-38 is void for it is wholly inconsistent with and outside the scope of the Governor’s authority under the Disaster Act. It is reprehensible and  inexcusable that a public servant would issue such an order.

    This Court needs no more facts and no more law. There is nothing else that is relevant. The statute is clear and unambiguous. Every hour this Court lets go by without striking down the Governor’s order will cause great harm, illegally inflicted on Texans by Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton.


    Ron Beal
    Professor Emeritus & Attorney at Law

    Editorial Note: Letter was gently copy-edited, address and other details omitted; see original on SCOTX website. 

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    Very interesting, thanks for posting. The thing is, there needs to be one leader in a crisis, and that is the governor.

    Do we want to give the corrupt, inept, and racist local officials the power to make fiats? Do we somehow trust them more than the governor.

    A hurricane is nothing like a pandemic. The governor will respond to a hurricane as the situation requires.

    It is foolish to think that humans can somehow completely defeat nature by issuing mandates. We need to reject the hate based news, altogether, and also the idea that this is “unprecedented.” The younger among us will not remember Pres. Ford. At the time, the deadliest virus ever, a swine flu variant, threatened the nation. Pres. Ford had an ill fated vaccination program. (Also, just like the current president, he fell down a lot, he had a disastrous evacuation of US military, and he was not elected).

    You are not forbidden to wear your mask, and I have recommended that you do so. Ignore my warning at your own risk.

    Also, refer to Australia. People are crying because the government told them not to leave home, and they were hunted down if they left.

  8. Manny says:

    Okay, you win, Jason, let us all just throw ourselves into the deepest part of the ocean, you first.

  9. policywonqueria says:

    Re: “A hurricane is nothing like a pandemic. The governor will respond to a hurricane as the situation requires.”

    Both are disasters and encompassed within the scope of the Texas Disaster Act.

    Therefore, what is the same — despite the obvious differences between the two types of disasters — is the question of the content and scope of the Governor’s legal powers under the TDA once he declares a state of disaster. If he can thwart a local response in the form of disease mitigation, he could also prohibit other local disaster-fighting efforts during and after a hurricane.

    This is one of the reasons why the pending litigation in the Texas Supreme Court is no small matter. It goes far beyond the disagreement over mask mandates.

    Following the model of GA-38 — if upheld as a legitimate use of emergency powers — he could presumably forbid local fire departments (municipalities) from operating fire engines, using water hoses, and fire extinguishers as he sees fit. And ban the use of boats and large city-owned trucks in a flood for rescue efforts.


    If the Judicial Republicans on the SCOTX bless Abbott’s use of emergency powers for other policy objectives (i.e. purposes unrelated to coping with a declared disaster and reducing its harmful impact) — which is one of the legal issues being litigated — Abbott might say that house fires in the Second, Third, and Fourth Ward are a good way to reduce urban blight and to facilitate gentrification. Ergo, let them burn!

    And if there is another electricity shortfall in a cold winter storm, he could designate areas with poor housing stock and occupants for “loadshed” rather than more valuable properties and people. Let them freeze! And in a flooding event, he could likewise decides who lives and who drowns based on geography. Let them drown! 

    Why not? A Commander in Chief gets to command.

    While there is no guarantee there won’t be scoundrels in local government, elected officials at the local level at least have skin in the game, and would be accountable to constituents who are affected by their actions and omissions. And the impact of bad policies would be more constrained compared to a counter-productive policy imposed statewide, like the one prohibiting a particular well-established public health intervention to curb the spread of a contagious disease. 

  10. C.L. says:

    The frequent posters on this blog who appear to be so, so anti-mask, ’cause, you know, ‘Murica, freedoms, vaccine’s gonna me me magnetic, illegal immigration, MRNA plants a govt tracking chip in you, you’re free not to wear one (and BTW they don’t work anyway), Biden’s child cages, 20 yrs in Afghanistan, local crime is rampant, the (insert name of local) Mayor is a racist, vaccines don’t prevent you from contracting C-10 which ain’t all that serious anyway, my (insert name of higher power – Yahweh, Allah, Jesus Christo, Trump, Confucius) God says science ain’t real, etc., are the same ass clowns I frequently read about in the press as of late…typically in an obituary post where it describes how they spent their last month on a ventilator.

    I’m not a hateful person ’cause hate is a disease that eats you from the inside, but I am entirely unsympathetic when I read those obits. You could have just gotten a shot (for your benefit), you could have just masked up (for everyone’s benefit)…

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