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New Houston, Texas Medical Center numbers show COVID levels dropping

The Houston Health Department found a significant drop in positivity rates from COVID tests and the city's wastewater.

HOUSTON — New numbers show key COVID-19 metrics dropping in the Texas Medical Center hospital systems and across the city of Houston.

The Houston Health Department reported the city’s latest 14-day average COVID-19 positivity rate, or the percentage of tests that come back positive, is 26.4%, down from 36.4%.

“While not a surprise, it certainly is good to see,” said Dr. David Persse, Chief Medical Officer of the City of Houston, on Monday afternoon. “We hope that it’s gonna continue.”

HHD also reported Monday the wastewater virus load was 319%, down from 725%.

“Still, we’re at over 300 percent of what it was in July 6, 2020,” said Dr. Persse. “So, that was the first big wave. That was a respectively high wave. So, we’re still three times that. So, while the numbers are coming down, the numbers are high.”

The Texas Medical Center reported Monday that during the week of January 17, their hospitals admitted an average of 400 new COVID-19 patients each day, down from 418 such hospitalizations per day the previous week.

Dr. Persse said the hospitalization numbers are not dropping as quickly as other metrics because the omicron variant has progressed beyond impacting mainly unvaccinated people.

“It passed around through that population,” said Dr. Persse. “It has now gotten into some of the folks who are vaccinated but for whom the vaccine may not have been quite so robust. So, we’re seeing a lot more elder patients, a lot of nursing home patients who are requiring hospitalization. It’s an unfortunate consequence, not a huge surprise.”

Houston Health opened its sixth COVID testing mega site Monday at the Ellington Airport Clear Lake Neighborhood Recycling Center.

RELATED: Houston Health Department to open sixth 'mega' COVID-19 testing site in Clear Lake

This week, many of the free at-home rapid tests Americans ordered through the federal government's COVIDtests.gov website, which launched January 18, are expected to arrive.

RELATED: How you can order 4 free COVID tests from the government

KHOU 11 asked the Department of Health and Human Services how many of those tests have been mailed to the Houston area and how many had arrived. A spokesperson said Monday that they did not have an update yet, adding more tests were mailed out over the weekend.

A KHOU 11 employee received an email from the United States Postal Service saying their rapid tests would arrive by Thursday, January 27, by 9 p.m.

A Houston spokesperson for the USPS, in response to a request for an update on reported issues mailing rapid tests to apartment complexes with multiple units, emailed KHOU 11 the following statement:

The Postal Service is seeing very limited cases of addresses that are not registered as multi-unit buildings which could lead to COVID test kit ordering difficulties. This is occurring in a small percentage of orders. For assistance in the ordering process the USPS recommends filing a service request at https://emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or contacting our help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS, to help address the issue.

Fetch Package, a company that lets apartment residents ship packages to its facility and schedule a delivery, is asking customers to use their home address for rapid test deliveries.

“While we are working hard to resolve these concerns with our partners at USPS and expect to have it resolved in the coming weeks, we encourage you to utilize your apartment community address the same way you would other mail and send it directly to the community to prevent any delays or service concerns,” read an email sent to customers.

Editor's Note: The following video was uploaded Jan 19