I told you in my last COVID report that I would let you know if there was a change in the trajectory of the epidemic petering out. Well, there has been a significant uptick in hospitalizations nationally and in Texas.
In Texas, COVID hospitalizations and ICU beds have doubled since the beginning of the month and are now back at levels not seen since early May. As you can see, the rate at which they are climbing is quite alarming.
Hospitalizations are also up nationally but not by nearly as much. At the end of June, US hospitalizations were running around 12,000 per day but are now over 18,000.
Nationally, COVID-related fatalities have also increased, roughly in proportion to the increase in hospitalizations. In early July the CDC’s seven-day moving average got down to 160, it is now running about 230. So far, in Texas there have been no increase in fatalities. The State’s actual date of death analysis continues to show a slow gradual decline.
Vaccinations have dwindled to a trickle. The percentage of the US population that has been fully vaccinated has only inched up from 47.1% to 48.6% during July. The over-65 percentage went from 78.0% to 79.5%. Texas is running about 5% behind the national average with only about 43% of its population fully vaccinated. Texas has done a little better with the over-65 population at 75%. Still, that leaves about 900,000 Texans who are over 65 and unvaccinated.
I spend quite a bit of time talking to outright anti-vaxxers and those that just have reservations about this particular vaccine. I appreciate that there is some risk to any kind of medical intervention, and there have clearly been some rare adverse reactions to these vaccines. However, over 99% of COVID related fatalities and hospitalizations are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. The math of the relative risk of getting a serious case of COVID and a complication of taking the vaccine is not even close, especially so for those over 65.
As I mentioned in my report for the end of June, there is probably something like 100 million Americans that have either not been vaccinated or not recovered from a COVID infection. The last three weeks have hardly made a dent in that number, so I am afraid that we could be in for several more months of waves of COVID outbreaks until we get that number down some more. But the good news is that the vaccines and naturally acquired immunity appear to provide reasonable protection even against the delta variant. So, we will get there. It is just taking longer than we hoped.