Hospitalizations for COVID-19 slightly decrease

Beginning of a Trend?

HOUSTON – New statistics suggest overworked Houston area hospitals may be beginning to turn the corner on the COVID-19 surge.

While Houston remains a hot spot for the worst public health crisis, new statistics on hospitalizations are guardedly encouraging.

The Texas Medical Center numbers show hospitalizations are going down in the Greater Houston Area, even while some metrics show the number of positive cases continues to go up.

“That looks like a downward trend -- the last five days,” said Dr. James McDeavitt , SPV and dean of Clinical Affairs at the Baylor College of Medicine. “A lot of people testing positive for COVID but they are generating fewer admissions into the hospital.”

And once admitted, McDeavitt said hospital stays are shorter because doctors have learned how to better treat COVID-19 patients, freeing up needed beds more quickly.

But hospital beds are still at a premium. As of Monday, in 147 patients were waiting for a bed, 39 of them needing ICU beds. Yet, at this point, medical center hospitals are only filling about 8% of the 373 ICU surge beds available.

“Beds are created as they are needed and as it appears we are now trending downward it would not have made sense to convert all 373 of those into fully functional ICU beds with staff, because it doesn’t look like we’re going to need them right now,” McDeavitt said.

What does that mean for those patients waiting for a bed in intensive care?

“If they’re waiting, they’re probably waiting in the emergency department where there are ventilators and qualified staff to care for them. it’s not unusual, not ideal, but not unusual,” he said.

The statistics suggest that Harris County can avoid another shut down if the hospitalization rate continues to trend downward. For that to happen, McDeavitt said all of must continue social distancing and wearing face masks.