Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Positivity rate reaches 9%, hospitalizations hit 1,400 as front-line workers receive vaccine

Here is the Dec. 22 Texas Medical Center coronavirus update. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)
Here is the Dec. 22 Texas Medical Center coronavirus update. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)

Here is the Dec. 22 Texas Medical Center coronavirus update. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)

There were 1,413 COVID-19 patients housed in hospitals across Texas Medical Center member institutions as of Dec. 21, according to the medical center’s daily dashboard.

That is a nearly 26% increase over two weeks ago, when hospitals reported 1,122 COVID-19 patients Dec. 7. The positivity rate, meanwhile, sits at 9%, up from 8.7% a week prior, and 6.2% a month ago.

However, coronavirus vaccines have been delivered to over 32,000 front-line workers throughout Texas Medical Center institutions, TMC President and CEO Bill McKeon said during a Dec. 22 coronavirus media briefing. These shots have been administered since Dec. 14, when distribution of the first wave of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began. In total, over 55,000 doses of the vaccine were distributed to hospitals that make up Texas Medical Center, out of 224,250 doses allocated to the state of Texas during the first wave.

However, a second wave of vaccines is here.

Through the week of Dec. 21, TMC hospitals are among those that will receive 620,000 doses, 460,500 of those from Moderna and 159,900 from Pfizer, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

This all comes as DSHS released Dec. 21 a list of populations eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Phase 1B, the second phase in the state’s vaccination distribution plan.

“Protecting these higher-risk individuals is of the utmost concern in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” the DSHS wrote in the report.

Phase 1B includes people 65 years of age and older and people 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness. These include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity.

Questions remain, however, on when these populations will be able to receive the vaccine and how distribution will be organized.

“1B will be more difficult because it’s much more of a general population,” said Dr. David Persse, the city of Houston’s chief medical officer, during the media briefing. “We have to have a network outside of the hospitals to get those vaccinations.”

Coordination among public health agencies and providers will be key.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” said Dr. David Callender, the president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System. “The good news is that we’ve been working with the state and Dr. Persse, so we can work through them. We think we have a good approach, though we recognize that no system is perfect.”
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.