Concerns grow over COVID-19 hospitalization numbers in Houston area

HOUSTON – We continue to track the number of COVID-19 cases across the greater Houston area.

The Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council tracks the number of cases across the 25-county region. For the past two weeks, SETRAC is reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations have been the highest extended duration in its history.

  • General Bed census factoids:
  • COVID census in general beds is 3,055 patients … which is an all time high for us.
  • We have had over 3,000 COVID patients in-house since August 17… which is the highest duration for us (much different than when we may experience a day or two spiking and then falling). It was on August 16 when we last had less than 3,000 COVID inpatients (census was 2,921 patients on August 16 but rose to 3,015 the very next day and has remained above 3,000 since then).
  • ICU Bed census factoids:
  • We have 1,047 COVID patients in our ICUs and is causing many to operate near capacity since COVID patients are requiring 47% of the ICU beds. Only on July 18, 2020, did we have a single-day spike to 1,121 ICU patients.
  • We have remained with over 1,000 patients in our ICUs after reaching 1,061 on August 24.
  • Since Mid-August 2021, we have had our highest ICU and General Bed census levels of the year and the longest duration at that level in the history of COVID in our region.
  • Pediatric Covid Patients
  • On September 7th, our data shows 108 children were hospitalized in our five children’s hospitals due to Covid. An additional 28 pediatric patients required intensive care due to Covid.

“This is not good news in our numbers. I’m not encouraged at all. We have some terrific needs at some of our hospitals in the nursing staff and the physicians and everybody ... the housekeeping staff ... they’re exhausted and there’s no one to replace them,” said Darrell Pile, CEO SETRAC.

While the state’s COVID trend is improving, the President of Harris Health System said locally the numbers are plateauing but at an extremely high level, much higher than they were during the Winter COVID surge.

“This is no time to celebrate or high-five or take a vacation. Things are still very dire,” said Esmaeil Porsa.

On Tuesday, hospitals in the Harris Health System surpassed their highest number of COVID ICU patients since the start of the pandemic. Over the last five days, they experience the highest number of COVID-related deaths ever and they are running out of room to treat sick patients.

“We are at a point where we are literally running out of space inside hospitals. You can throw another 200 nurses at me and there’s nothing I can do with them,” Porsa said.

Health officials say hospitals in areas with low vaccination rates are seeing the greatest number of patients and tend to be more overwhelmed. They said the only way out of this pandemic is to get vaccinated.


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