As the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads, Texas currently accounts for nearly 15% of the country’s COVID-19 hospitalizations. A surge in patients has pushed some hospital systems to their limits, with several quickly running out of ICU beds.
“Hospitals across Texas are sounding the alarm in ways we have not seen in the other surges,” Dr. Sara Andrabi, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Yahoo Finance Live. “There are more than 10,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and that's a quick and dramatic spike.”
The number of Texans hospitalized with COVID-19 rose to 10,791 as of Thursday, up from 2,436 a month ago, with just 321 available ICU beds throughout the state, according to state health data. In North Texas, the situation is dire. The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council said Thursday that there were no available pediatric ICU beds in the region.
The daily number of deaths in Texas is on the rise as well, climbing more than 300% in the past 14 days to 118, but still only a fraction of the total reported during the winter peak.
“These are all-time low numbers for bed availability, and it couldn't come at a worse time with COVID cases running rampant,” added Andrabi. “If you have a heart attack or a stroke, you could be waiting for hours to get a bed. Most of those beds are full of COVID patients who are unvaccinated, and that could have been completely preventable.”
While vaccination rates have been rising in recent weeks, only 44% of Texas residents are fully vaccinated, meaning 16 million Texans have not received a shot, according to state data. State officials estimate about 95% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas are not fully vaccinated.
The Delta variant, which is driving the recent surge in cases, has now been identified in more than 130 countries and is as contagious as chickenpox, according to an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) document.
Nationwide, Johns Hopkins University data shows a total of 866,236 new cases were reported last week as the Delta variant spreads, accounting for about 36% of the total cases in the past month.