Delta variant pushes North Texas hospitals to limit; Tarrant leaders urge vaccination

·2 min read

Many North Texas hospitals are seeing their capacity deplete rapidly as the COVID-19 delta variant and other more common viruses spread through the region.

Tarrant County is at a high level of COVID-19 community spread after weeks of declining cases and hospitalizations. Last week, the county reported 2,674 new cases, more than five times the number of new weekly cases compared to early June.

In Tarrant County, hospitalizations are trending up, public health director Vinny Taneja said Tuesday during a County Commissioners Court meeting. About 14% of hospital capacity is being occupied by COVID patients, putting hospital bed occupancy in Tarrant County at more than 85% full and adult ICU at more than 90% full.

Taneja said many hospitals in the North Central Trauma Service Area, which includes 19 counties, have exceeded their capacity, with many at 90% full.

About 1,700 COVID patients are in North Texas hospitals, with Tarrant County leading the region with 636 COVID patients.

Taneja said a combination of COVID-19 and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, are affecting Tarrant County hospitals. Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth said last week it was experiencing a surge in patients with COVID-19 and RSV among infants and toddlers.

“We have a doubleheader happening in our community unfortunately,” he said.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms but can be serious for infants and older adults. Cases of the virus have been increasing this summer, with nearly a 50% positivity rate among those tested.

Area hospital systems referred questions to Stephen Love, president and CEO of Dallas-Ft. Worth Hospital Council, but he was not immediately available for comment.

Taneja said that although there is no vaccine for RSV, mask wearing can be effective in reducing its spread. He also urged people to wear masks and get vaccinated to reduce the impact of COVID-19, a sentiment that county commissioners echoed.

“It’s a sure shot way to get out of the pandemic,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that vaccinated Americans should wear masks indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission. Days later, the agency said in a report that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant could still spread the virus.

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