The number of COVID-19 patients in county hospitals hit 1,387 on Dec. 17, with 984 of those patients in general wards and 403 of them in intensive care units, according to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. The general ward count is up from 817 one week ago on Dec. 10, while the ICU count is up from 352 on Dec. 10.
Between late September and early November, the COVID-19 hospitalization count fluctuated between the high 400s and mid-500s before it started rising in mid-November. The number of hospitalizations are up about 63% since this time last month.
The Texas Medical Center also saw its base ICU capacity of 1,330 beds exceeded over the past week and activated the first phase of its surge capacity, opening up 373 additional beds its system hospitals have available in times of emergency. About 26% of ICU patients were hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the TMC.
Meanwhile, the seven-day average for daily new cases in Harris County was around 1,630 as of Dec. 17, which is up from 1,365 one week ago. The daily average previously peaked at a similar figure in early July, barring a spike in September after a backlog of test results were released by the state.
The 14-day average for testing positivity is also on the rise, hitting 11.7% as of the most recent data from Dec. 10.
Another 1,594 new cases were confirmed in Harris County on Dec. 17, including 855 in the city of Houston and 739 in Harris County outside of the city. The total case count now stands at 214,180, with 24,316 active cases, 187,297 recovered cases and 2,552 deaths.