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Are COVID-19 cases increasing? Methodist CEO says hospitalizations in the Med Center have gone up

Doctors suspect they're seeing the result of crowds without masks ignoring social distancing practices on Memorial Day Weekend.

HOUSTON — There are warning signs the coronavirus is still spreading in the Houston area. 

For the past week, the number of people hospitalized with Coronavirus has been increasing about 30 percent across the Texas Medical Center.

“Over the last few days, we’ve seen a more rapid increase," President & CEO of Houston Methodist Dr. Marc Boom said.

Boom says we’re in the warning zone, and the most likely reason is Memorial Day.

“We saw lots of those pictures and images of people packed together, not being careful, so I think we’re paying the price for that a little bit right now," Boom said.

Another area they’re watching is ICU beds. A Texas Medical Center chart shows the status of  ICU beds available across TMC. 

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The numbers are in the normal range now but gradually moving toward the level that would cause moderate concern.

If hospitals reach that level, they have the ability to open up new ICU beds, but they’re hoping to avoid that.

“We end up with hospitals that get overwhelmed. When hospitals are overwhelmed, we saw it in New York City -- mortality rates are double what they are in Houston," Boom said.

Another chart shows ICU bed occupancy over the past two months. It’s also increasing.

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“At our low point we got down to about 11 percent of all of our usual capacity so what we normally operate day in and day out, but we’re now up, getting into the 16, 17, 18 percent range so it’s come up significantly," Boom said.

The number is new cases in Harris County is also concerning. Friday was the second time this week there have been more than 200 new cases and the second largest daily increase ever.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo says she’s very concerned by the recent numbers and is warning people not to get complacent as the state reopens.

Dr. Boom agrees.

“We need to do that very safely and carefully, because otherwise, our own personal behaviors are going to come back and bite us, and we may allow a situation to get out of control which, of course, is not what any of us wants to happen," Boom said.

The bottom line is we’re okay now, but as the state continues to reopen, you can’t let your guard down.