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.


MOST RECENT

Vaccinations at any of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's 26 Greater Houston-area locations are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. by appointment only at no cost to the individual or family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston-based Kelsey-Seybold Clinic expands vaccine eligibility to age 16 and older

Vaccinations at any of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's 26 Greater Houston-area locations are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. by appointment only at no cost to the individual or family.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
Costco Business Center being built in Stafford; see live music in The Woodlands and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the Houston area from the past week.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Houston’s Galleria will add several new high-end luxury brands. (Courtesy Simon)
The Galleria announces new restaurant, luxury brand additions

Moncler, the French-Italian apparel manufacturer and lifestyle brand, will be bringing its well-known jackets and sportswear for the first time in Houston.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church and School has received an up to $500,000 commitment that will go toward rebuilding its campus due to Hurricane Harvey-incurred flood damage. (Rendering courtesy St. Thomas Episcopal Church and School)
St. Thomas Episcopal receives $500K commitment for campus rebuild

The donations are aimed at helping St. Thomas complete its $10 million Fulfilling the Promise capital campaign.

Houston City Council approved ordinances expanding and funding Houston’s BCycle program on April 14. (Courtesy Houston BCycle)
Houston City Council OKs expansion of BCycle sites

City Council approved the addition of 11 new BCycle kiosk bike stations.

West University Place City Council has approved a $1.7 million contract for the second phase of its Virtual Gate camera system. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
West University council OKs $1.7 million for Virtual Gate second phase

Minuteman Security Technologies, the contractor for the project’s first phase, was tapped for the new contract.

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homes priced above $750,000, such as this one in the Heights, saw a surge in sales in March, with almost twice as many properties sold. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Average Houston single-family home price jumps 20% in March

The average sale price for a home in March was $370,847.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.