Texas Medical Center hospitalizations up 44%; officials urge social distancing heading into holidays

The holidays are approaching with COVID-19 cases on the rise. As a result, Texas Medical Center officials are urging people to redouble social distancing and mask-wearing behavior. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)
The holidays are approaching with COVID-19 cases on the rise. As a result, Texas Medical Center officials are urging people to redouble social distancing and mask-wearing behavior. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)

The holidays are approaching with COVID-19 cases on the rise. As a result, Texas Medical Center officials are urging people to redouble social distancing and mask-wearing behavior. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)

Texas Medical Center leaders are sounding the alarm as COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 44% in the past two weeks—from 546 to 774 as of Nov. 17—after about a month of stable patient loads, data from the center shows.

“We just think it’s really important to communicate that we’re seeing a significant growth of this virus and hospitalization of our sickest patients,” TMC President and CEO Bill McKeon said.

He and other TMC leaders addressed the media Nov. 18 to provide an update on coronavirus trends, advice on health and safety measures during the upcoming holiday season, and the ongoing vaccine trials.

Hospitals report having more new patients arrive each day, with 155 new COVID-19 patients reported Nov. 17 as compared to 117 reported Nov. 5. Meanwhile, coronavirus patients occupied 222 ICU beds as of Nov. 17, up 20% from nearly two weeks ago.

As a result of these increases, plus expected future growth, medical leaders are urging the public to remain careful.


“The data we see as well as from the anecdotes and the contract tracing—this is all about smaller gatherings,” Houston Methodist Hospital CEO Dr. Marc Boom said. “We’re seeing the bulk of spread happening when people are letting their guard down.”

The key to containing a future surge comes in the next six weeks during the upcoming holiday season as families look to gather and celebrate, said Dr. James McDeavitt, dean of Clinical Affairs for Baylor College of Medicine.

“If we all we do is hope, all we will get is the worst,” McDeavitt said.

Having a safe plan is paramount to preventing a surge in coronavirus cases, McDeavitt said. Options include hosting an electronic holiday, celebrating with your household only, engineering a holiday that is safe or even forming a family bubble.

While being tested prior to a gathering is important, maintaining proper social distancing behavior is even more so, he said.

Still, with vaccines, such as those from Pfizer and Moderna, showing above 90% effectiveness, the hope is to deploy vaccines to front-line health care workers in December, TMC officials said during the briefing, with more widespread deployment in 2021.

“All the major hospitals [in the Texas Medical Center] are prepared to deploy the vaccine when they arrive,” Boom said.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


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