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.


MOST RECENT

Several local markets offer ways to support small businesses and artisans this holiday season. (Courtesy Pexels)
Check out these Small Business Saturday and holiday markets in Houston

Here are a few ways to support local businesses as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

"Remember, we don't want to invite COVID-19 to the dinner table," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Nov. 23 press conference urging caution amid rising COVID-19 positivity rates. (Screenshot via ABC13)
Mayor Sylvester Turner urges caution heading into Thanksgiving holiday

Houston officials also said 333 health providers had been identified as future vaccine delivery sites.

Houston's Rice Village will be bringing an inaugural farmers market beginning Dec. 6. (Courtesy Rice Village Management Company)
Rice Village announces bimonthly farmers market coming Dec. 6

The open-air market will include more than 40 hand-selected vendors.

protestor in crowd with who police the police sign
New report: Houston police oversight board lagging behind major Texas cities

The report suggested having no oversight board has a better effect on public trust than having a dysfunctional board.

A new building on the campus of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is now open. (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)
New building now open at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; free admission spots full

A new 100,000-square-foot building dedicated to exhibiting international collections of modern and contemporary art is now open at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.

Shake Shack opened its new standalone location at The Woodlands Mall in November. (Courtesy Christine Han)
Shake Shack opens in The Woodlands Mall and more Houston-area updates

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

The Skeeters will be the first-ever independent baseball league team to become an MLB team's Triple-A affiliate. (Courtesy Sugar Land Skeeters)
Sugar Land Skeeters selected as Triple-A affiliate for Houston Astros

In joining the Houston Astros organization, the Sugar Land Skeeters will be the first-ever independent baseball league team to become an MLB team's Triple-A affiliate.

Schools now have the power to temporarily suspend on-campus instruction if “a significant number of the instructional staff at the campus is impacted due to a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak." (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Education Agency authorizes schools to close doors for 14 days due to coronavirus-related staffing concerns

Campuses can now instate a hybrid or fully remote instruction model for up to 14 days if adequate instructional staffing is not possible due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases among employees.