Omicron variation of COVID is on the rise in Texas and major cities

AUSTIN, Texas – The omicron variant has led to an increase in positive cases across Texas, and some hospital areas are seeing the same number of COVID-19 patients as last winter.

The variant, which is now known to be more transmissible than delta and the original strain, also resulted in the state’s highest positive case rate with more than 1 in 5 COVID-19 tests coming back positive.

In Texas, the positive case rate passed 10% in mid-December, putting the state in “red zone“, a review in which federal officials encouraged more restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. More than a week later, the rate has more than doubled, peaking at 22 positive rates. ,3%.

The high positivity rate has not yet resulted in significantly more deaths or hospitalizations in Texas, but several states have seen increases in COVID-19 cases in November and early December that are close to or have been. surpassing the record number of hospitalizations due to the virus.

Michigan, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire hit their highest hospitalization rates in December, according to CNNhowever, the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in Texas hospitals remains far below the increase seen during the winter of 2020 and this past fall.

On Tuesday, Austin Chinese American reports that the Austin area will return to Phase 4, which recommends that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people avoid nonessential activities, including indoor dining and shopping.

The experts The Texas Tribune spoke with are noticing an increase in COVID-19 patients in hospitals and predicting them to increase. But this more infectious variant is having a major impact on hospital staff, said Dr James McDeavitt, executive vice president and clinical dean at Baylor College of Medicine.

“The difference with this increase is that because this is so contagious and everybody gets sick, everybody claims to be sick,” McDeavitt said. “It’s not so much about the number of people in the hospital – it’s more about the number of healthcare workers who themselves are sick and need to be isolated.”

And with many hospital continuous recording nursing shortage, even if ICU beds are available, they may not have anyone to staff their departments.

Statewide, about 1 in 14 hospital patients are being treated for COVID, but the number is much higher in hospitals serving the El Paso and Texas Panhandle areas, which have at least 1 in 6 beds. patients with COVID-19 patients.

The higher rate of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the Amarillo area is attributed to lower vaccination rates, an increase in the protracted delta, and resistance to social distancing measures, according to Dr. Rodney Young, regional chair of family and community medicine at Texas Tech University. Health Science Center in Amarillo.

“About 90 to 93% of our hospitalized patients are not vaccinated,” says Young. “That number is close to 98% for critical care and about 60% for people on ventilators.”

The growing number of cases in the community has also impacted the state’s aged care services and Texas criminal justice facilities, where infected employees and visitors can transmit the virus. retreat into areas where people normally live closer.

Number of active COVID-19 cases in supported living facilities in the state has more than doubled in the past two weeks, but the 124 active cases registered on Monday are just a fraction of the more than 900 cases measured this time last year.

“We’re in the early stages of this wave, we’re actually still watching it,” said Carmen Tilton, vice president of public policy for the Texas Assisted Living Association. “I don’t see in the data on wildfires in assisted living facilities in Texas.”

Tilton, which campaigns on behalf of assisted living facilities statewide, notes that the best protections against the virus are to follow concealment, screening, and testing policies to protect against the virus. can identify cases early and limit contact between active staff, residents or visitors.

“We’re going to see outbreaks because when you have a high level of contagion in the surrounding community, you have a positive case,” Tilton said. “You can’t seal these buildings inconspicuously.”

According to Karen Hall, deputy chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, positive cases are on the rise in state prisons.

“We’ve seen an increase just as we’ve seen an increase as community cases increase,” Hall said. “Not as drastic, not as drastic as with the initial outbreak or with the (variant) delta.”

Hall noted that the largest number of cases over the weekend came from prisons in Anderson and Fort Bend counties, both of which have seen an increase in cases over the past two weeks.

Immunization rates for about one-third of the state’s correctional facilities are above 70% for both inmates and staff. And for the other half of the facilities, vaccination rates are above 50%.

The weekend also led to an uptick in positive cases among youth and staff at the state’s juvenile correctional facilities, with 37 children in Texas Department of Juvenile Justice facilities. tested positive for COVID-19. That’s more youth cases than the registry in the past nine months, and the largest single-day positivity rate since the summer of 2020.

“I think we know that whenever we go into the holiday season, whenever we have new variants, there is a risk of infection and transmission,” said Brian Sweany, a spokesman for TJJD. spread higher.

The agency also recorded 23 positives among employees that weekend, including 10 at the McLennan County campus, where all but one of the teen cases originated. The agency speculates that these are omicron cases, given how quickly the virus spreads but how mild these cases are.

According to Dr. Esmaeil, the sharp increase in positive cases has been at levels most communities have not seen during the pandemic, including in the Houston area, where they were from a few hundred two weeks ago, to more than 5,000 cases on average daily, according to Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and chief executive officer of Harris Health System.

“So far, the frenzied increase in cases has not equated to a frenzied increase in hospital admissions,” Porsa said. “They are increasing but they are not increasing in proportion to the number of cases.”

Disclosure: Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Science Center are the financial backers of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization funded in part by contributions from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial backers play no part in Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete List them here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and interacts with them – about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

The introductory video above is from an earlier report. Omicron variation of COVID is on the rise in Texas and major cities

Dais Johnston

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