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Houston-area hospitalizations have leveled out, data shows. But we're not out of the woods yet

For over a week, the number of people needing hospital care has leveled out. Some days have even shown a slight decline in hospital cases.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is trending in the right direction in the Texas Medical Center.

For over a week, the number of people needing hospital care has leveled out. Some days have even shown a slight decline in hospital cases.

“We’re really glad to see that. The question will be is that sustainable or not?” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of Houston Methodist.

Credit: TMC institution clinical census

Dr. Boom says hospitalization numbers tend to lag behind testing data. TMC statistics show there was a dip in testing trends at the end of June/early July, which is why we are seeing the current dip in hospitalizations

Data shows COVID-19 testing started to increase after July 4, which resulted in the Greater Houston area reporting its highest single-day total for new COVID-19 cases just days after the holiday weekend.  

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Now hospital systems are waiting to see if there will also be an increase in the number of people who will require hospitalization due to the virus.

According to Boom, it's likely.

“We saw the testing data pick back up post Fourth of July. We’re looking at these next few days as really wondering, are we going to see the data come back up? Is this a temporary lull? Or is this the beginning of something really good? We’re watching that very closely and hoping and praying it’s the beginning of a nice decline,” said Dr. Boom.

Dr. David Persse, the Houston Health Department's leading health authority, confirmed hospitalizations are down but said he is seeing a higher positivity rate in COVID-19 cases.

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Persse said his theory is that healthcare workers are doing a better job of caring for patients, possibly making the length of their hospital stays shorter which frees up more beds.  

Doctors are cautiously optimistic about the recent hospitalization trends.

Right now, TMC’s normal ICU capacity is full. Half of the patients in normal ICU beds have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are hundreds of surge capacity beds still available.