Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in North Texas are on track to reach the highest levels of the pandemic by the end of the month, according to the latest forecasting report from UT Southwestern Medical Center. As of Monday, about 3,350 people in the 19-county region were hospitalized with COVID-19, or about one in four patients.
Blame the contagious omicron variant, which is accounting for 98 percent of reported COVID cases in the area. Transmission of the virus is at its highest levels since the start of the pandemic, according to the UT Southwestern researchers.
Per the report: “Both the percentage and absolute number of positive tests among UTSW samples continue to rapidly increase, reflective of recent sharp jumps in the DFW area more broadly. Test positivity rates statewide are currently at their highest recorded level since the pandemic began and are still increasing. This means that the true number of cases is far higher than recorded case counts.”
The fallout from holiday gatherings, the start of a new school year, and new-year office returns will contribute to the spread.
Omicron does appear to be less deadly than both delta and COVID-19’s original vintage. But it’s so contagious that we’re nevertheless likely to hit new peaks in case numbers and hospitalizations, putting further strain on doctors and nurses, teachers, and all the other essential workers who have had to put up with much more than most of us these last two years. It is not a great time to have a medical emergency in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The CDC, stepping in it, released some new and confusing guidelines about isolating and testing in response to omicron. Getting tested remains harder than it should be, although Dallas County is opening more testing sites this week to meet increased demand.
The best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 should be familiar at this point. If you’re sick, stay at home. Wear an N-95 or KN-95 mask when you’re out in public. Most important, get vaccinated and boosted: The state health department says unvaccinated people are 20 times more likely to die from COVID than those who have gotten the jab.