HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Health experts warn a third wave of COVID-19 is at our heels.
"We are barreling towards crisis at a rapid speed," said Dr. Susan McLellan, an infectious disease professor with UTMB.
This round of community spread is different than the waves we saw in the spring and summer and could be more dangerous, McLellan said. The numbers tell the story.
As positive cases in both Harris County and Houston spike to June levels, hospitalizations, which experts say are the best real-time metric, are slowly creeping up.
The reason, according to Harris County health authority Dr. Umair Shah, is why "we're seeing younger populations that are testing positive."
That younger population, adding to the positive case count, do not usually end up hospitalized.
People ages 20 to 39 are leading the charts in both Harris County and Houston for positive cases.
While our Houston-area hospitals are not nearly as stretched thin as those in El Paso, McLellan has a sobering warning.
"Even though our cases in Houston may not be up as much as they could be, it's going to happen," he said.
Dr. Shah said pandemic fatigue is setting in just as we crave time with families the most.
"We've got half-time here where we are all tired, and this is the time where if we let our guard down, this virus will take over," he said.
Both doctors joined the resounding choir, urging you to keep Thanksgiving very small and outside if possible.
"There is no way to do what we usually do and have the same level of safety," said McLellan.
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Younger population leading COVID-19 positive case count