‘Worst surge of COVID that we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic’: Doctors send warning as cases continue to rise in Houston area

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – With Harris County having a count of more than 1 million COVID cases, and Houston wastewater revealing seven times more of the virus than this time in 2020, local doctors are warning residents to take precautions when it comes to COVID-19.

Dr. James McDeavitt, the Executive VP and Dean of Clinical Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine, said while many may not realize this, by the numbers, this latest surge of COVID cases is indicative of how widespread the virus is in the Houston area.

“Most people will be surprised by what I’m going to say. We are in the midst of the worst surge of COVID-19 that we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic, in terms of the number of infected people out in the community,” McDeavitt said. “Now, having said that, most people are not going to believe me, but if you sit down and reflect, you know three, four or five people who have probably gotten COVID-19 recently.”

In July, Harris County is continuing to surpass one million cases, according to data from State Health Services.

The Houston Health Department’s Dr. David Persse reported Thursday that the viral load in Houston’s wastewater is more than 700% higher than the last peak on July 6, 2020.

“As the wastewater changes, about a week or two later, the positivity rate will change and then a week or two after that, hospitalizations will change,” said Persse, the city of Houston Chief Medical Officer.

The CDC also warned the Omicron BA.5 and BA.4 variants are infecting the majority of the American population as the variants are more resistant to existing antibodies.

“They’re not getting nearly as sick as those who are unvaccinated or those who were never sick before. But you are still able to become infected because BA.4 and BA.5 are sufficiently different from the immunity that you have from the vaccine or prior infections,” Persse said.

The CDC has asked manufacturers to target the BA.4 and BA.5 variants in their next boosters. Meanwhile, local doctors are urging Houston area residents to use their best judgment and to take the proper precautions.

“You really need to get at least that first booster because we are seeing that that does give you some protection against serious illness,” Persse said.