HOUSTON - As kids head back to school this week after the holidays, doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital are sounding the alarm on the highly contagious Omicron variant, which now accounts for 90% of COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Jim Versalovic is the Pathologist-In-Chief & COVID-19 Command Center Co-Leader at Texas Children’s Hospital.
"During the month of December, this all transpired basically from zero cases when we began the month of December 2021, to a positivity rate now approximately 30% as we close the month," Dr. Versalovic said.
The doctor also added that within a two-to-three-week span, Texas Children's has already shattered prior records established during the Delta surge last summer.
"Those records include pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in a single day, new cases reported in a 24-hour period. We topped 700 in a 24-hour period during the past week and record positivity," said Dr. Versalovic said.
According to Texas Children's, the current positivity rate for kids stands at more than 30% with approximately 70 pediatric hospitalizations; that number surpasses the peak from the Delta surge last summer.
Pediatric hospitalizations have also more than quadrupled in the last several weeks, up from 30 a week ago, and 15 two weeks ago, according to Texas Children's officials.
Houston-area school districts including Houston, Katy, Fort Bend and Cy-Fair ISD, are returning to campus in-person this week.
Masks are mandated at HISD but optional at most other districts.
Districts like Katy ISD have shortened the quarantine guidance to 5 days for its employees, to match the CDC’s latest recommendations.
However, Katy ISD students who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19, must still isolate for at least 10 days.
Those students will have the option for remote online learning as the district's "Intermittent School to Home" program has been extended through January 31st, 2021.