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Modeling paints sobering picture for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Based on the available data, one model predicts Texas will exceed 15,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 by Aug. 15.

HOUSTON — We’re getting a pretty sobering look at the direction COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas are headed from a group of UT researchers.

Before we dig into the chart and the data behind it, it's important to know who created it. The University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium is a collective of “scientists, social scientists, and engineers” that is “developing innovative models that advance the surveillance, forecasting and mitigation” of COVID-19.

According to its website, the consortium uses COVID-19 hospitalization data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas 2036 (a nonprofit data lab) and cell phone mobility to track how much people are moving around and, potentially, spreading the virus.

That information helped them put together charts tracking daily COVID-19 hospitalizations and COVID-19 ICU patients throughout Texas.

Credit: KHOU 11

The statewide chart shows a wave last summer, then a big one last winter. Things seem to improve until about July 3. Since then, we’ve watched the number of COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals increase from 1,589 to 2,519 on July 15 and as of Aug. 4, there are 7,685.

This is where those projections come in. Based on the available data, this model predicts we’ll exceed 15,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 by Aug. 15. That’s exponential growth.

Credit: KHOU 11

The story’s the same here in Houston. On July 15, there were COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals. That number jumped to 1,888 by Aug. 4, putting us on track to reach 3,830 by Aug. 15.

What’s worse is that unless our behavior changes, those numbers are expected to keep going up. The CDC reports 97 percent of those COVID-19 patients who end up in the hospital are not vaccinated.

That’s why health experts and local leaders are calling for a return to indoor masking -- even for people who are fully vaccinated -- and, in the case of Harris County, asking the unvaccinated to stay home.

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