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Behind the headlines: what Med Center data tells us about COVID-19 hospitalizations

COVID-19 positive patients are taking up 2,629 regular and ICU hospital beds in the Texas Medical Center as of Aug. 18

HOUSTON — We’re talking a lot about ICU beds, hospital beds and hospitalizations in general lately. Stats from the Texas Medical Center paint a pretty clear picture why.

This chart how many new COVID-19 positive patients are being admitted to Med Center hospitals each day with numbers as recent as Aug. 18. Looking at the past few weeks, that number has increased from 124 on July 20 to 336 on Aug. 5 to 429 on the 18th. 

The Med Center also offers that data over the course of the pandemic, all the way back to April. New COVID-19 positive hospitalizations spiked last summer, again this winter and they’re clearly doing it again now.

Some of those people have short stays. Others end up in the hospital for weeks or months, sometimes moving to intensive care. That’s what factors into this next set of data.

This chart shows the total number of COVID-19 positive patients in Med Center hospitals. Over the same time frame -- July 20 through Aug. 18 -- we’ve seen a steady increase from 647 up to 2,629 in regular and ICU beds. Looking at that data over the course of the pandemic provides the true scale of the latest surge.

This should be significant for all of us in the Greater Houston area because it means COVID-19 patients are taking up the beds we may need.

The Med Center reports 100 percent of normal ICU beds are occupied and more than 40 percent of those patients are COVID-19 positive. Hospitals added capacity early on in the pandemic, but even if you add that in, 66 percent of beds are taken, a quarter of which are COVID-19 patients.

We still don’t have a clear answer about whether the remaining beds are staffed. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services there are only 55 staffed ICU beds available in Trauma Service Area Q, which covers nine counties and 6.6 million people.

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