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With at least 13,790 COVID-19 patients, most unvaccinated, hospitalized Thursday in Texas, the state marked a week just below the record set in January for hospitalizations during the pandemic, according to numbers released by the Department of Health. State of Texas Health Services.
The state’s highest pandemic peak of 14,218 hospitalized COVID-19 patients was reported on Jan. 11 during the state’s deadliest wave of infections since the virus was first reported in Texas in March 2020.
During the current summer, on August 25, the largest number of patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals was 13,932. But with only a couple of hundred fewer patients statewide than on record – and a much more depleted and depleted workforce than they had during the winter – hospitals have been operating at a capacity for weeks. superior or superior.
The increase has put unprecedented pressure on the state’s healthcare system, as the delta variant is spreading largely uncontrollably at a rate up to eight times faster than previous versions of the virus. Medical professionals say the situation could have been avoided with wider acceptance of the vaccine.
In recent weeks, the state has already recorded a record number of hospitals reporting that they had run out of beds with ICUs available for new patients. Large metropolitan systems feel special pressure that has put elective surgical services on hold and report that ambulances have to be diverted due to the overflow of emergency and intensive care departments.
According to hospital officials, much of the problem is a severe shortage of nurses and other staff members to care for patients after a large number of health workers have left or retired due to VOCID. pandemic. The remaining health workers are expensive and in high demand.
During the winter hike, state leaders in health and emergency management sent tens of thousands of care nurses from across the state and the nation to ease the pressure on crowded hospitals.
After vaccines became widely available in the spring and hospitalizations ceased, the state-supported nursing program ended in May. But vaccinations also began to decline at that time, when nearly a quarter of jeans had received injections.
This opened the doors for the delta variant to spread more rapidly from June; hospitalizations began to increase later that same month.
Experts say the best way to smooth out the curve is to increase social distancing, the use of masks and hand washing, proven methods to stop the spread of COVID-19 while the state works to vaccinate more than 29 millions of Texas residents.
But Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has stood firm against any state or local mandate that advocates say would push Texas toward more vaccinations and a slower spread of the community.
A strong opponent of the blockades amid widespread Republican criticism of his pandemic-era rules last summer, Abbott lifted statewide business capacity restrictions and masked mandates in March.
Through a series of executive orders and legislation, Abbott and Texas lawmakers also banned Texas businesses from requiring clients to prove vaccination proof, local governments and school districts require masks and employers from the industry. public that their workers be vaccinated.
These prohibitions remain within a legal limit as they advance through the courts.
Last week, Abbott issued an executive order saying its bans would remain in effect even after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for people over 16 on Monday. Abbott’s previous orders only applied to vaccines that only had emergency use authorization.
Meanwhile, most Texas school districts have begun classes almost entirely in person, many with mask requirements in place, challenging Abbott’s stance against them, in an effort to stop the expansion of the delta variant among Texas children.
Just under 48% of jeans have been fully vaccinated, according to experts, which protects them from serious illness, hospitalization and death.
Those who are not vaccinated account for more than 90% of hospitalized patients, officials say. Cities, counties, universities and private companies are offering incentives for vaccination, and the state has reported a small rise in the number of daily shots being fired in recent weeks.
But as that number begins to rise from its low point in late July, officials are trying to solve the hospital’s staffing problem.
So far, the state has paid to hire more than 8,000 health care workers for Texas hospitals that have the most pressure, many of whom have already seen admission rates close to or higher than those seen in January, when they had more staff to care for these patients.
State-funded relief nurses have arrived at hospitals in recent weeks. Meanwhile, some counties are considering using or have already agreed to take advantage of federal stimulus money to add more workers to further address patient falling in love.
More Texas doctors are also turning to monoclonal antibody therapies for COVID-19 patients who meet the requirements, saying the treatment gives them more chances to stay out of the hospital and could reduce hospitalization rates throughout the hospital. state until more people are vaccinated.
Mandi Cai contributed to this report.
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