More Texas hospitals are reporting a shortage of intensive care beds than at any other time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state 18 months ago — just one sign among many that the health crisis is on track to reach its most dangerous phase yet, health officials say.
The latest surge of the virus has also caused new cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations to rise with record speed to just below their January peaks, as the highly contagious delta variant rips through the unvaccinated community at a rate up to eight times faster than earlier strains, officials said.
Between 93% and 98% of hospitalized COVID patients, depending on the area, are unvaccinated, officials said. With just under half of Texans fully vaccinated, the state still has some 16 million people who have yet to be protected from the virus.
New COVID-19 cases have reached a seven-day average of more than 14,000, still below the January peak of more than 19,000. But the number that worries health officials most is hospitalizations from COVID-19, which hit 12,227 on Monday — an increase of 2,186 since last week.
If the trend continues, the state could surpass the single-day record of 14,218, set on Jan. 11, before the end of the month. — Karen Brooks Harper and Carla Astudillo