Is Houston seeing a mirror image of last year's COVID summer surge?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We're seeing COVID-19 numbers in the Houston area that we haven't seen in months, which may be the reason why experts say vaccination numbers are also on the rise.

HOW DO WE COMPARE TO LAST SUMMER'S SURGE?

Experts say we're experiencing numbers we haven't seen in months, but it's still lower than last year's summer surge.

Statewide, the seven-day rolling average for COVID-19 cases is 5,128. This time last year it was 8,793.

There are 4,626 patients currently in Texas hospitals compared to last year's 9,781.

Data from the Texas Medical Center shows there are currently 1,069 COVID-19 daily cases. This time last year, it was 1,818. The average number of new patients is 154. Last year it was 270.

"Even though those numbers are lower than before, what that tells us is that we can prevent more deaths," said Dr. Jill Weatherhead, a professor at Baylor College. "We can prevent more hospitalizations if more people received their vaccine. So, these are preventable hospitalizations, preventable deaths with the vaccine. That's the big difference between this year and last year. Yes, the numbers are smaller, but they're preventable."

TEXAS DEATHS TIED TO UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS

Since February, officials with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said 8,787 Texans have died of COVID-19. Of those, only 43 were vaccinated.

This means that 99.5% of Texans who have died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

VACCINATION NUMBERS ON THE RISE

New data shows more people are getting vaccinated. Officials said 349,166 Texans have been vaccinated this past week alone.

The week prior, there was 301,979 people who received a shot. The last time it crossed 350,000 was the week of June 20 when 378,100 Texans got vaccinated.

The numbers are up in southeast Texas, too. State numbers show that 60,714 people in Harris County got vaccinated this past week, which is up 6,648 from the week before.

In Montgomery County, 6,774 people got vaccinated this past week which is 1,279 more than the week before. In Fort Bend County, 9,819 got vaccinated, which is up 958 from the previous week.

Galveston County also saw an increase. Officials say 3,699 people were vaccinated this past week, which is 785 more than the week prior.

ABC13 reporter Nick Natario asked Weatherhead which vaccine is currently doing the best against the Delta variant.

"There was a recent article that came out in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed that the mRNA vaccines, this particularly was focused on Pfizer but Moderna should theoretically work the same way, continued to show efficacy against the Delta variant," Weatherhead explained. "The viral vector vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson and the AstraZeneca, there's still some data rolling in on those. But, within that same article showed that the efficacy of those vaccines still held up against Delta, although we are still learning more specifically about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine."

RACIAL/ETHNICITY GAPS REMAIN IN THOSE TESTING POSITIVE AND GETTING VACCINATED

Harris County's data shows there's a racial gap in who's getting vaccinated. Data shows that 55% of Asians are fully vaccinated, and 43% of whites received their shots.

Only 35% of Hispanics are vaccinated, and just 25% of Black residents in Harris County have received shots.

We're also seeing a change in demographics of who's testing positive. Data shows the virus impacted the Hispanic community hard last year.

This summer, the number of Hispanics testing positive has dropped from 41% to 30%. For Black residents, the number is moving in the opposite direction.

Right now, 24% of COVID-19 cases are Black individuals. This time last year, it was 20%. It's also on the rise for white residents, moving from 32% to 38%.

For more on COVID-19 statistics in Texas, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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