HOUSTON — For many Americans, life has returned to normal again, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
In Texas schools, in public indoor spaces and even on planes, mask wearers seem to be in the minority.
This comes as COVID numbers are low in Texas. Harris County Public Health reports the wastewater positivity rate is at 11% and has rated the COVID community level as low.
However, Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, warns now is still not the time to get complacent.
“Even though it’s going down now, and things are looking pretty good in Texas,” said Dr. Hotez, “in a few weeks we may be in a very different situation.”
Cases are going up again in some places on the east coast, like Massachusetts. Rates are also rising in the United Kingdom. If Texas follows past trends, the state will soon follow suit. Even with low transmission, the virus is still taking its toll in America.
“The problem is,” explained Hotez, “we’re still losing too many Americans to COVID-19. We’re not at the 2,000 to 3,000 deaths per day, but we’re at 400 deaths per day. These are people actually dying from Covid.”
Hotez believes two things need to be happening more in order to mitigate impacts of another wave: More infected people taking the antiviral, Paxlovid, and more people getting the newest COVID booster, Bivalent.
Bivalent is recommended for those six months out from their last booster, which is when protection is shown to significantly drop. This version of the vaccine protects against the BA.4 and BA.5 strains and likely new strains that could follow.
“Mother nature is not being coy with us. She’s kind of telling us what her modus operandi is. So, we have to assume that we could be in for yet another variant and so that’s why I’m really trying to sound the alarm," Dr. Hotez said.
For more information from the CDC about the COVID vaccines, click here.