Texas Medical Center top health leaders warn not to get lax with the COVID-19 during holidays

HOUSTON – Top health leaders with the Texas Medical Center warn with the holidays approaching that it’s critical for people not to get lax with the Coronavirus.

Five TMC leaders had a discussion Wednesday over Zoom focused on alarming trends they said they’ve observed concerning COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations.

“We’re now seeing routinely more than 100 people diagnosed with COVID every day at Houston Methodist, again numbers we had not seen since really the end of July beginning of August,” said Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital.

Boom, the health leaders with Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center, said there’s been a significant growth of the virus.

Several weeks ago the community spread was below one percent, they said. As of Wednesday, it’s at 1.1%. The positivity rate they said is at 5.7%, up 30% from last month. Their data shows a 63% increase in new positive cases within the last month, along with 155 new hospitalization cases. That’s up 43% from October, according to the medical professionals.

“This virus is not like Influenza where one person can pass it on to two or three,” said Dr. Peter Pisters, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center. “This is a virus where one can pass it on to 70 or 80.”

The medical experts said the reason COVID-19 is transmitting quickly is due to small social gatherings.

With Thanksgiving a week away, they’re urging families to use Zoom, celebrate with their households only, eat outside or form a holiday bubble where everyone has been tested.

They said for the next several months everyone needs to double down on public health measures, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

The TMC health leaders said testing is up at their hospitals and that’s encouraging. Though testing has been down slightly in Harris County compared to weeks before, testing is surging statewide with an average of 100,000 tests a day.

The health experts also said they’re looking forward to at least two vaccines in 2021, along with at-home COVID-19 tests. But they said our behavior between now and then will make all the difference in slowing the spread.