Texas Medical Center data shows Houston-area COVID-19 hospitalizations nearly doubled in last month

New data from the Texas Medical Center shows COVID-19 hospitalizations have nearly doubled in the last month in the Houston area, and the positivity rate is steadily rising. 

As of last week, daily hospital numbers were at 210, as compared to 131 in June.

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Leaders at TMC and the Baylor College of Medicine say the Houston-area is back in a COVID-19 peak, equivalent to January during the Omicron surge. The city's positivity rate is also at 29%, all due to the now-dominant BA.5 subvariant.

On Tuesday, TMC released a new, updated COVID-19 dashboard that includes wastewater data. Viral load is now up to 843%. 

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President & CEO Bill McKeon says it's an effort to better educate the community in real-time. They dialed back on publishing new data for several months now, while COVID-19 was not as threatening to the area.

"We've always used these decks as a way to communicate in real-time," says McKeon. "So, we really have a sense for how the virus is moving and can make those decisions with information, rather than hearsay."

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When it comes to vaccines and boosters - although Pfizer and Moderna report on new shots coming by the fall that will provide stronger immunity against Omicron, Dr. Klotman advises people not to wait to get protected.

"Either the population gets immune because everyone gets infected, which we don't want to happen or the vaccines improve," says Klotman.

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The Baylor CEO also mentioned that while this subvariant strain seems to have the worst impacts on the elderly and immunocompromised, the community spread indicates the virus is still dangerous to the general public.