The Texas Department of State Health Services reported more than 13,500 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with continued rises in the positivity index and the number of people hospitalized with the virus.
According to data released by the DSHS Thursday, 10,912 new confirmed cases and 2,737 new probable cases combined for a total of 13,649 cases of the COVID-19 virus.
The 8,130 reported hospitalizations was an increase of 445 patients since Wednesday and the highest number of hospitalizations since Feb. 12.
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Preliminary data suggested over 75% of the new cases were due to the delta variant, according to Dr. Jennifer Shuford, the state epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
W. Stephen Love, president, and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, said there were 1,979 COVID-19 patients in North Texas hospitals Thursday.
"This represents 13.40% of bed capacity and 32.81% of adult ICU patients which means over a quarter and almost a third of our adult ICU patients have COVID-19," Love said in a statement Thursday. "As a point of reference, we had 415 COVID-19 patients in the hospitals on July 5 so as you can tell, our hospitalizations have increased significantly in 30 days."
Love, along with other medical experts, said both hospitalizations and deaths are a lagging indicator of the severity of the pandemic and are likely to rise for some time after cases.
"Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator so as case numbers increase, we anticipate hospitalizations will increase," Love said.
The state also reported 76 more coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday. The rolling 7-day average of deaths has increased from 22 per day on July 5 to 49 per day on Aug. 5.
The molecular positivity index climbed to 18.07% on Thursday. The last time the positivity index was that high was Jan. 11 as the second wave began to decline.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had previously said a positivity index of 10% and stark increases in hospitalizations would be a red flag.
The all-time high for the molecular positivity index is 20.98% which was reached during the winter peak of the third wave on Jan. 4.
On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency said contact tracing is not required if and when positive cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in classrooms. The TEA also reaffirmed Abbott's executive order banning mask mandates in Texas schools.
Arlington ISD was the latest school district to pull back on certain in-person back-to-school activities. The district moved its convocation virtually Thursday. while citing the uptick in COVID-19 cases in Tarrant County behind the decision.
Medical experts continued to warn that the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among those who have not yet been vaccinated against the virus.
"Vaccinations are absolutely helping protect people and the unvaccinated are very much at risk with the increase in the delta variant, so wearing masks is also another effective tool against COVID-19," Love said.
Love recommended three things we can all do to prevent the further spread of the delta variant:
- If not vaccinated, please talk to a trusted source, do your own scientific research and get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do it for the children under 12 (if for no other reason) as they can't get vaccinated and need us to help protect them.
- Wear a mask if you are vaccinated or not vaccinated. There was a town in Massachusetts where many vaccinated people contracted the delta variant but none died thanks to the vaccines.
- Conduct virtual meetings, instead of in-person, for at least the short term rather than hosting potential spreader events.