COVID numbers are rising but hospitalizations not running parallel like past spikes

The TMC COVID numbers show cases are on the rise.

The latest numbers available show that the positivity rate was recently higher than 11%. The real concern comes with the wastewater, the viral load has more than doubled in the past couple of weeks and is now 999% above what it was in July 2020.

“So, we’re in the midst of the beginning of another wave. What’s interesting this time is that the rate of increase in the wastewater, which is a reflection of how many people in the community are infected right now, is not in parallel like it was with hospitalizations,” said Dr. David Persse, Chief Medical officer for the City of Houston.

The hospitalizations are below 200 new cases per day; some past surges had about 600 new cases.

Right now, there are beds for the hospitals to handle the infections, but Dr. Persse said we’re still dealing with nursing shortages.

“Our nursing shortage today is significantly worse than what it was at the beginning of the pandemic, and that being the case when you then have a 5,10, 15% absenteeism because of illness amongst those nurses. You now have to start closing down hospital beds because you just can’t staff them. So, it makes the hospitals functionally smaller when our patient load may be going up,” Dr. Persse said.

He said if you only had the first round of vaccinations that were formulated for the original variant and haven’t gotten a bivalent booster, now is the time you should consider it.

In a weekly email from the Texas Medical Center, these are the key takeaways for the week of Dec 26 - Jan. 1:

TMC Test Positivity: Last week, the 7-day average COVID-19 testing positivity rate was 11.8% for TMC hospital systems.

  • Previous week: 11.1% positivity

TMC Hospital Admits: TMC admitted 182 new COVID-19 patients per day in TMC hospital institutions. Compared to:

  • Previous week: 168 hospitalizations/day

City of Houston Wastewater: As of Jan. 2, average the wastewater viral load was 999% of the baseline:

  • Previous report: 419% viral load
  • Baseload: 100% on July 2020