Less than a week into the new year, the rate of COVID-19 infections and the number of people hospitalized in Texas for COVID-19 are at record levels, while the 7-day average for new cases and deaths are spiking — but less than half the vaccine doses allocated for Texans have been given out, according to state numbers.
The seven-day average positivity rate for confirmed coronavirus tests has exceeded 20%, doubling levels that Gov. Greg Abbott called a “red flag” early in the pandemic. And the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 on Monday stood at 15,976, up 1,610 from a week ago and exceeding the previous highs reported last summer.
He said health providers expect that “the laxity around social distancing and precautions” combined with holiday travel is going to place even more pressure on an already stressed health care system.
“We’re preparing for that as best as we can, but the capacity is not infinite,” Hardesty said.
On Monday, state health officials announced that 325,000 additional vaccine doses would be getting into the hands of 949 providers in 158 Texas counties over the next week, part of the first round of vaccinations for front-line health workers as well as nursing home residents, Texans over 65 and those with certain medical conditions, among others. Some 121,875 doses are earmarked for long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted-living centers.
But with the number of vaccine doses available still falling far short of what’s needed to cover those who are eligible — and with state officials pushing hospitals and other providers to administer vaccine doses that the providers say they don't have, aren't sure are coming or have already administered — confusion and frustration have surrounded the initial few weeks of the vaccination rollout.
Some 944,275 doses had been shipped to providers by midnight Sunday, according to the Texas Department of Health Services.
Of those, 414,211 — just under half of those shipped — had been administered, according to the agency’s dashboard.
Hardesty said the nearly 16,000 doses his facility received are being administered “fast and furiously,” and about 10,000 people have gotten their first dose, with second doses to start in the next week.
“We’re giving them as quickly as we can,” he said.
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