HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The number of Houstonians who are being admitted into the hospital for COVID-19 has been continuously increasing over the past several weeks.
David Callender, the president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System, said while the hospitals are not overwhelmed yet, a continuous upward trend could cause another surge in local hospitalizations.
"Looking at what's happening right now, we would expect to see a pretty significant surge that would occur probably the first or middle of December," Callender said, "How long it would persist depends on our behavior, so clearly, we would like to stay out of any sort of surge situation. Again, we believe we can keep that from happening if we can get people to follow our guidelines, particularly as we celebrate the holidays."
The Texas Medical Center said 146 new COVID-19 patients were admitted to local hospitals on Wednesday compared to 104 hospitalizations a day last week.
"Typically now these days, for a patient who comes in who doesn't need ICU-level care, their [hospital] stay is around five days or even less," Callender said. "For a patient requiring an ICU stay, it can extend up to about two weeks. Usually it's a little less than that, but both of those numbers are down significantly than what we saw in the beginning of the pandemic."
Meanwhile, Dr. Marc Boom, the president and CEO of Houston Methodist, said the increased COVID-19 test positivity rate keeps going up and it's concerning. He said Houston Methodist is seeing the highest number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital since August.
"We could see twice as many people getting admitted to hospitals if we stay on this trend in two weeks, which means twice as many as that again, two weeks from that and that starts to be pretty alarming and starts looking a lot like the June-July surge," Boom said.
Dr. James McDeavitt, the dean of clinical affairs at the Baylor College of Medicine, said right now hospitals are managing the surge and what hospitals have learned over the course of eight months includes cohesive coordination with community leaders, expanding capacity and more effective treatment options to help hospital staff.
"We had a near death experience as a community in July. We had an event that scared us, frankly, that we really thought we would overrun our health system," McDeavitt said. "I think that really got people's attention that we are taking the virus seriously."
He said the concern is the holiday season.
People getting together in indoor spaces with people outside their immediate family circle could cause another spike if people fail to follow the CDC guidelines.
"As the virus starts to spread it tends to spread in younger populations, 20- to 30-year-olds," McDeavitt said. "Now most of them don't wind up in the hospital, but eventually it spreads beyond the 20- to 30-year-olds and it spreads to grandma and grandpa with medical conditions and they are the ones that are hospitalized."
The Baylor College of Medicine has a guide for families to build their own 'Holiday Bubble' and plan ahead of the holidays.