Number of COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Texas Flat Since Business Reopenings

The deadly respiratory illness COVID-19 has continued to spread in Texas over the past month, but the number of Texans hospitalized with the disease has remained mostly flat.

When shuttered Texas businesses began to reopen at limited capacity on May 1, the number of Texans in hospital was 1,778. As of June 1, that number was just a tick lower at 1,756, according to state health department data.

Out of about 1.1 million people tested, over 66,000 Texans tested positive, at least two-thirds of whom have recovered, while 1,698 people died in Texas after testing positive for the disease.

COVID-19 epidemiology models published by the University of Washington project that the number of cumulative deaths will reach 2,000 by mid-July — a costly increase from today’s toll but still a number that represents a flatlining trend. The number of daily new deaths could drop to few as 1–4 deaths per day in July, according to the model.

Those numbers could change, however, depending on a number of factors, including treatment options that may become available and whether Texans continue to take the threat of the disease seriously. COVID-19 spreads mainly through droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC says on its website, “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).”

In Travis County, there was a record jump of 88 new cases on June 1. The 7-day average for the daily change in new cases has risen from 43.43 on May 1 to 61 on June 1. That change could be driven by increased testing, spread of the disease, or a combination of the two.

Despite the increase, Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for Austin-Travis County, said Tuesday, “As a community, we’ve done a relatively good job keeping our total number of COVID-19 cases at bay.”

In Travis County and the four surrounding counties, 97 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, of whom 41 are in intensive care and 21 are on a ventilator, according to Austin Public Health.

Threat to Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

COVID-19 is deadlier for the elderly than it is for the general population. State health data shows that 3,993 people in Texas nursing homes tested positive as of June 2, 679 of whom died, a rate of 17%. In assisted living facilities, 111 of 489 people who tested positive have died.

Austin’s rates are similar. According to Austin Public Health, 30% of nursing home residents who contract COVID-19 end up in the hospital (compared with 15% of COVID-19 patients among the general population), and the case fatality rate for nursing home residents is 22%. That compares to a fatality rate of just 1.7% for the general population.

“COVID-19 has a devastating impact on our nursing homes and in our population over the age of 65,” said Escott. He said it was important to overhaul infection control procedures and nursing home design to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and other disease.

Originally published at https://www.honestaustin.com on June 3, 2020.

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Honest Austin

Honest Austin

Original reporting on local Austin news, Texas politics, and the economy. honestaustin.com