HOUSTON - After months of declining, COVID cases are now rising in Houston as a couple of variants have made their way to the Bayou City.
We had 655 new COVID cases in the Houston area Sunday, compared to 297 a week before that.
Houston Methodist Hospital, for instance, is treating it’s first patient with the Lambda variant as Methodist says there’s "an alarming spike" in COVID-19 cases with a steep increase just this weekend.
"I had four blood clots in my lungs. I had double pneumonia. I basically had to learn to walk again because being in the bed for so long you lose that muscle strength," explains Ferrell Phelps whose before and after pictures tell quite a story.
"I dropped more than 20 pounds." He was also on oxygen for weeks, could only visit with most loved ones through glass and he's still trying to recover from his March 28, 2021 diagnosis of COVID-19.
"March 29, 2021, things just plummeted. Temperature through the roof, massive headaches and things were just downhill from there. Thank God for my girlfriend, Sonyia Graham, because she basically saved my life, along with the doctor because she was my 24-hour a day nurse," says Phelps.
"I felt like I was hovering over myself looking down. It’s kind of like an experience you can’t believe is happening," adds Graham.
Phelps is like most who are now being diagnosed with the virus. He was unvaccinated.
"The doctor had informed me that I’m dying now, literally and they didn’t know if they could save me," says Phelps.
"The one thing that’s clear is where we're seeing the most increase in cases is in people who are unvaccinated," explains Houston Methodist Hospital Clinical MicroBiologist Dr. Wesley Long, who says those who are unvaccinated and testing positive are also more severely ill, like Phelps who was running out of oxygen and didn’t even realize it.
"And he kept trying to explain to me just how tired he was and of course we learned later he was not tired. He was lethargic," says Graham.
"My doctor he was like your lungs are basically fried from COVID," Phelps explains.
Last week, Methodist had a 100 COVID patients. On Monday, that number spiked to more than 185.
"85% of our cases at Houston Methodist now are the Delta variant of COVID-19 and it’s incredibly contagious. It’s the most contagious variant we’ve seen," says Dr. Long and because of that, "The message is very clear. We really need everyone who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated against COVID-19."
"Because it can save your life. I would urge everyone to get vaccinated. At my doctor’s orders I can’t even do the vaccine right now due to the condition of my body. Also, the mental aspect is really something. It’s almost like having a PTSD experience. You actually become afraid of being in the public for fear of catching it again. I have nightmares. By the grace of God, I am still here. When you get a diagnosis that tells you you’re literally dying, it’s a pretty tough thing to deal with," says Phelps.
"Now with the Delta Variant, because it is so much more contagious, all of those activities are now more risky, going to a crowded place without a mask, not social distancing. I advise everyone to make sure they’re masking, social distancing, avoiding crowds," explains Dr. Long, who says they are seeing some breakthrough cases of people who are vaccinated and testing positive for COVID, but he says they typically are having either no or light symptoms."
If you plan to get vaccinated, remember, "You won’t be fully protected against the Delta Variant until two weeks after a two dose shot or three weeks after the Johnson and Johnson single dose shot," Dr. Long explains.
Also, if you've heard about cardiac issues in children after they are vaccinated, this is what Dr. Long wants you to know about those cases, "Which are extremely rare compared to all of the adverse events in patients who’ve been infected with COVID. Getting infected with COVID is much more risky than getting vaccinated. Viral Myocarditis is not uncommon in children and young adults. Viral Myocarditis associated with COVID is incredibly common. There have been some studies that show one in five adults infected with COVID have elevated cardiac injury markers and actual true Viral Myocarditis in adults is not rare. So your chances of having Myocarditis from being infected by COVID are about 20 to 25 times higher than they are from having mild Myocarditis after vaccination," which according to Dr. Long typically improves in two to three months if brought on by the vaccine, but he says if you get Myocarditis from COVID, heart issues can linger much longer.