Texas reported 4,320 COVID-19-related hospitalizations on Saturday, a high not seen since mid-March, when the state’s numbers began trending downward. The total marks an increase of over 1,000 hospitalizations from the prior week, when the state reported just shy of 3,000.
Last week, the state’s health commissioner noted a 150 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations between June 27 and July 20. Dr. John Hellerstedt, the commissioner of the department of state health services, noted that the delta variant makes up most new cases in Texas. He urged residents who haven’t yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to seek out the shot.
“Unlike previous surges, this time we have safe, powerfully effective vaccines and plenty of them,” Hellerstedt said. “We know how to vaccinate millions of Texans in a short period of time. We can see the danger coming on fast. But this time, we can stop it in its tracks.”
About 12.5 million Texans have been fully vaccinated against the virus, while 60.1 percent of the state population ages 12 and older have received at least one shot. Across the state, hospital workers are bracing for the worst, with some COVID-19 wards quickly filling up again.
“I can’t really describe how disheartening it is, especially for our frontline workers, to have to prepare themselves for a new wave of COVID patients on ventilators and oxygen again, unable to see their families,” Dr. Joseph Chang, chief medical officer of Dallas’ Parkland Hospital, told Texas Monthly recently. “On my walk, when I look into their eyes, I can see that the feeling is ‘How can this be happening all over again?’”
Texas is reporting an increase in its 7-day average of new cases, with officials in some larger cities advising residents mask up while in public regardless of vaccination status. The state had ended its mask mandate back in March and Gov. Greg Abbott banned local pandemic-related mandates in May.
Texas is among a number of southern states reporting higher-than-average case rates, but the numbers remain lower than data reported in neighboring Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.