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'We need to be ready' | COVID-19 cases rising nationally just in time for holidays

Dr. Peter Hotez says the virus is following its 2020 playbook and too many people who remain unvaccinated could pose problems in Texas after the holidays.

HOUSTON — With Thanksgiving just a week away, experts are closely watching what will happen next with COVID-19. So far, the virus appears to be following its 2020 playbook. 

"I don't think we're out of this, by any means," said infectious disease and Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine. "Mother nature is telling us what's going to happen. She's not being coy. I think we should anticipate numbers going up after the holidays."

The numbers are already rising nationally with a more than 12% increase since the start of November. The upper Midwest is seeing higher case counts, and Texas could be in the cross-hairs post-holidays too. 

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"We still have half the state that's unvaccinated and, like I say, that's a lot of warm water for Hurricane Delta to pass over," Hotez warned. 

He said the magic number is 85% fully vaccinated to completely shut the door on COVID-19. The problem? "Fully vaccinated" now means ensuring you have a booster shot. Too many people still don't. But all adults could be eligible for boosters by the weekend. 

"That's going to be critical. as well, just to make sure you keep up with your vaccinations," Hotez explained. 

With vaccinations among 5 to 11 year olds off to a sluggish start too, and travel expected to pick up for Thanksgiving, Dr. Hotez is concerned about another surge. 

"We need to get ready," said Hotez. "It's unfortunate that vaccination rates are low. They're holding back and they shouldn't."

In just a few weeks, Texas is likely to pass California as the hardest hit state in the country with most COVID-19 deaths. Dr. Hotez says every death is now preventable with the vaccine.

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