The number of patients hospitalized across North Texas hospitals has decreased slightly one day after the region reported its highest number yet, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.
Stephen Love, president of the DFW Hospital Council, said there are 4,098 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of Friday in Trauma Service Area E.
On Thursday night, there were 4,145 patients, Love said.
“That’s the highest number we’ve had,” Love told NBC Friday. “It basically represents 26% to 27% of hospital capacity.”
Love said while they are relieved to see a slight decrease in hospitalized patients, they still anticipate a surge within two weeks and continue to plan accordingly. As of Friday, there are 82 adult ICU beds remaining in North Texas with COVID-19 patients making up nearly 50% of the total ICU capacity.
“You have a bad car wreck or something like that, those [ICU] numbers can move around pretty quickly,” Love cautioned.
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During a meeting Friday afternoon with the state’s task force on COVID-19, Texas State Health Services Department Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said there were nearly 14,000 COVID-19 patients across Texas hospitals.
“The highest peak we had in the summer was around 10,800 or so. It’s significantly more,” Dr. Hellestedt said.
While vaccine efforts continue in the country, Hellerstedt urged the public to continue practicing “non-pharmaceutical interventions”, referring to precautions like masks and keeping a safe distance.
Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services at DSHS, presented a schedule of Texas’ vaccine phasing. Currently, the state is under the first phase which includes vaccinations for people in groups 1A and 1B.
Phase 2 will likely be around March, which is when Texas could see an increased supply of vaccines.
“We do know that we will expect some larger vaccine events for the broader and larger populations to be occurring as that bigger supply chain really ramps up, but we’ll also be using vaccine teams to target gap areas across the state,” Garcia said.
The third phase consists of having enough vaccines for the entire Texas population, which is projected to be around July 2021 through October 2021.
“Then finally, phase four just is where we’d expect that any provider can order the COVID vaccine on their own,” Garcia said. “The state would no longer need to be involved in the distribution process.”
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.
Love and other health leaders have continuously echoed Hellerstedt’s urging of not abandoning safety protocols, citing it as a way to protect frontline workers and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 until vaccines are more widely accessible.
“I have people call me frequently every day. What they ask me is what can we do for the healthcare workers. This is what you can do,” Love said.