Models project Texas COVID-19 surge in coming weeks, despite vaccine

ByKeaton Fox KTRK logo
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Model projections paint grim COVID-19 picture, despite vaccine
While Harris County is seeing positive trends, our neighbors around the state are seeing massive spikes in the worst data trends.

TEXAS (KTRK) -- On the same day Texas saw more hospitalizations on a single day than any other during the pandemic, health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are warning that despite the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the next few weeks will likely get worse before they get better.

With just 0.6% of the U.S. now vaccinated, it could be months before enough people have the vaccine before it makes a significant difference in case counts.

Across Texas, cases have continued to rise, spiking immediately after Thanksgiving as people traveled to see family for the holiday. Experts warn a similar jump is likely after Christmas.

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People dying from coronavirus had also spiked across the state, while deaths in Harris County have remained flat to slightly up.

Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation show cases and deaths declining once the vaccine is out, but it could be mid-spring before a major shift happens.

Across the state, COVID-19 patients occupy 17.8% of the state's hospital beds, and only 745 staffed ICU beds are still available.

at a press conference Monday, Mark Escott, Austin's interim medical director and health authority, said that this week alone, "ICU utilization" is up 62% in Travis County and that hospital beds could become scarce in a matter of weeks.

"Our projections forward into the new year continue to look worse and worse day after day," Escott said. "I think right now it appears we're going to enter 2021 in a state of emergency."

Model projections for daily deaths in Texas don't show improvement until the beginning of February.

On Monday, Fauci said that ideas like "herd immunity" could take months and would require 70% to 80% of the population, or hundreds of millions of people, to be vaccinated. Right now, just about two million people have been vaccinated.

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The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.