COVID hospitalizations decline as deaths continue to increase

Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 by region: The percentage of hospital beds being used by patients with COVID-19 in each trauma service region shows how the virus is impacting hospitals. – Graphic by The Texas Tribune

 

The Texas Tribune staff reports

 

The Texas Tribune has used daily data from the Texas Department of State Health Services to track coronavirus vaccinations, cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The state data comes from vaccine providers, city and county health departments, hospitals and laboratories. It may not represent all cases of the disease given limited testing.

 

What you should know:

  • The latest: Hospitalizations are declining after the omicron variant drove them to near-record levels in January. The number of Texas hospitals without ICU beds is also decreasing. However, the number of Texans with COVID-19 who are dying every day has been increasing since December. Here’s how you can get free at-home COVID-19 tests and N95 masks from the federal government.
  • Data released by the state shows COVID-19 cases are declining in Texas schools after the omicron surge. Texas students, frustrated by limited COVID-19 protocols, have turned to petition drives and walkouts. The pandemic also has cut the already short supply of bilingual teachers in Texas schools.
  • Vaccine’s protection goes down with time, so medical experts recommend a booster dose for everyone over age 12 after two to six months. Find out here if it’s time for you to get one. In addition, keep up with the latest on vaccine mandates and who has to follow them in Texas. The vaccine is proven safe during all stages of pregnancy, and pregnant patients are at an increased risk of getting seriously ill if they contract the virus. Still, many pregnant women hesitate.

 

How many in hospitals?

On Sunday, there were at least 7,479 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed COVID infections. This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test.

The state said roughly 2% to 6% of Texas hospitals do not report hospitalizations data each day.

It reported 8,095 available staffed hospital beds, including 443 available staffed adult ICU beds statewide. Patients with COVID-19 currently occupy 12% of total hospital beds.

 

Adult ICU beds available

In April 2020, the state started reporting the number of adult intensive care unit, or ICU, beds available in Texas hospitals. These specialized beds cater to patients with the most life-threatening conditions and include equipment such as ventilators and heart rate monitors. ICU units also have staff who are trained to care for the critically ill.

 

Note: 9% or more of hospitals reported incomplete data, falling outside of the typical range of missing data.

 

Where are most cases in Texas?

As of Feb. 14, the state has reported around 6.5 million cases, with 5.4 million confirmed cases and 1.1 million probable cases reported since the pandemic began. Confirmed cases are detected by molecular PCR lab tests, which are taken with a nasal swab and are highly accurate according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Probable cases are detected through rapid antigen tests, which are faster and less accurate.

These totals may differ from what county and city health departments report. The Tribune is measuring both the number of cases in each county and the rate of cases per 1,000 residents in the last two weeks.

 

How many new cases are reported each day?

On Feb. 14, Texas reported 5,655 new confirmed cases and 703 new probable cases for a total of 6,358.

There have been 5.4 million confirmed cases, which are detected through PCR lab tests. In November 2020, the state reported the first of 1.1 million probable cases, which are detected through rapid tests.

The state reports very limited demographic data for people who have had COVID-19, so the impact on Texans of color is difficult to measure.

 

How many coronavirus tests come back positive?

The positivity rate measures how prevalent the virus is in Texas. A rate over 10% means there is high transmission of the virus in the area, according to the CDC. During Texas’ largest outbreaks, the rate exceeded 20%, meaning 1 in 5 tests were positive.

This rate is calculated by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of PCR lab tests conducted over the last week. This shows how the situation has changed over time by deemphasizing daily swings.

DSHS reports a second positivity rate based only on rapid tests, which detect probable cases. As of Feb. 13, the rate for rapid tests was 6% for the last 7 days. The state reports far fewer rapid tests than PCR lab tests.

At-home tests are not automatically reported to the state, which could skew case counts and the positivity rates.

 

How many tests have been administered?

As of Feb. 13, Texas has administered 59 million tests for the coronavirus since March 2020. We do not know the number of Texans who have gotten a test because some people are tested more than once. The state’s tally does not include pending tests.

 

How many have died?

The first death linked to the coronavirus in Texas occurred March 15, 2020 in Matagorda County. As of Feb. 14, 81,030 people who tested positive for the virus have died in Texas. DSHS counts deaths based on death certificates that list COVID-19 as the cause of death, which excludes deaths of people with COVID-19 who died of another cause.

Some regions with the highest mortality rates are predominantly Hispanic. The virus has been more deadly in Hidalgo and Cameron counties in the Rio Grande Valley, where death rates rival more populous parts of the state like Dallas and San Antonio. In El Paso County, thousands of residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, placing the region far ahead of other major urban counties in deaths per 1,000 residents.

 

How many Texans have been vaccinated?

As of Feb. 13, 20.2 million people have received at least one dose, which is 69.3% of Texas’ population, and 17.1 million people, or 58.7%, are fully vaccinated. So far, 6.1 million people, or 21%, have gotten booster shots. A total of 42.1 million doses have been administered, including booster shots.

Texas received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December 2020. As of November 2021, the vaccines are available to everyone age 5 and older in Texas, regardless of occupation or health status. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose. Booster shots are available to everyone age 12 and older.

Health experts emphasize vaccinating as many people as possible to curb the virus’ spread. According to the Census Bureau’s 2019 Vintage population estimates, 93% of Texans are age 5 and older and eligible for a vaccine. The CDC recommends people previously infected get vaccinated because scientists aren’t sure how long immunity lasts for them and vaccination further boosts protection against COVID-19.

 

Percentage of Texans who are fully vaccinated

The Census Bureau’s 2019 Vintage population estimated that 93% of Texans are age 5 and older and thus eligible for a vaccine. The state began reporting booster shots in September.

Texas’s vaccination effort has faced geographic and demographic challenges compared to other states. A higher-than-average number of people are too young to get the vaccine and roughly 1 in 10 people live in rural counties, where health care is harder to access.

In less diverse, more rural areas, where the fully vaccinated rate has consistently lagged the statewide rate, vaccine hesitancy is often connected to mistrust in the government. For Hispanic and Black Texans, it commonly stems from a mistrust in the health care system.

State health officials initially rolled out vaccine hubs to help administer shots. But in May 2021, it shifted the responsibility to doctors, pharmacies, public health offices and other smaller providers who have closer relationships with the community.

 

Percentage fully vaccinated by county

The percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated shows how county immunization rates compare to the statewide level. This map also shows how many have gotten booster shots.

The distribution of the vaccine is unequal. Among people who have received at least one shot, the percentage of White and Hispanic recipients is in line with their proportion of the state’s population, while Black residents are being vaccinated at lower rates.

Texans fully vaccinated by race and ethnicity

The state is currently administering shots to people 5 and older. The state began reporting booster shots by race and ethnicity in December 2021.

  • 3.5 million Texans are Black, and 3.3 million of them are five and older
  • 11.5 million Texans are Hispanic, and 10.5 million of them are five and older
  • 1.5 million Texans are Asian, and 1.4 million of them are five and older
  • 12 million Texans are White, and 11.3 million of them are five and older

 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune and is continuously updated at https://apps.texastribune.org/features/2020/texas-coronavirus-cases-map/?_ga=2.182354471.1404985207.1645424405-1352304152.1617729656

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