'We are still seeing people die every week': COVID-19 pandemic continues

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Recently, we've seen COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths decrease in Harris County.

That means measures like social distancing and masking have also relaxed, but the COVID pandemic isn't over.

"Thank heavens, most of them do have less severe disease. We still have people on ventilators, and we are still seeing people die every week of this disease," said Memorial Hermann Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Linda Yancey.

In Harris County, about 72% of people have had at least one COVID vaccine dose.

"The funding that Congress passed to provide COVID vaccines is about to run out, which means we are running out of free COVID vaccines, so now is the time to go and get that vaccine if you want to get it for free," Yancy said. "The problem is that we are not going to know this is over until about a year after it has ended because there could always be another wave around the corner."

The concern is what happens after the virus. COVID can cause long-term damage to the lungs, kidneys, brain or heart, according to Yancy.

Some doctors say "long haul patients" didn't realize they had been through COVID before experiencing long haul symptoms.

"It's very difficult to tease out if these symptoms are secondary to COVID or other diseases that can cause post-infectious fatigue syndromes," Yancey explained. "People have very bad, life-changing effects. People who cannot concentrate cannot stand for more than an hour at a time, and it seems very random who gets it and who doesn't. Sometimes people who have had very mild disease will end up with very severe long COVID."

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