TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - For the first time since June 2020, fewer than 3,000 Texans are in the hospital with COVID-19.
East Texas hospital leaders said the drop is welcome news, more than a year after some very sick patients first started filling their hospitals.
“We’re seeing numbers as low as we’ve seen since last spring, so it’s really been quite a relief for us,” said Dr. Tom Cummins, Chief Medical Officer for UT Health East Texas.
A relief for Cummins and the staff at UT Health East Texas, who have been treating thousands of COVID-19 patients over the past year.
“And we’ve been hovering between 10 and 14 patients for the last couple of weeks now,” he said.
At CHRISTUS Mother Frances, Dr. Mark Anderson said their numbers are also dropping.
“We have been at a plateau for the past three weeks or so,” said Anderson. “Our numbers have dropped into the low twenties.”
He credits the drop to increasing vaccination rates and lasting immunity for those who’ve contracted the virus.
And while the numbers are low, Cummins said they can go lower with more people being vaccinated.
“So if you have the opportunity to get vaccinated, please do,” he said. “It’s safe, it’s effective, and it’s the biggest thing we can do now to control the spread and fight off the variants as they come up.”
The decrease is allowing for East Texas hospitals to start phasing out traveling healthcare workers who were once needed to help ensure that every patient was cared for.
“I think by May or so they should have been completely taken out of the market, and we’ll backfill those positions with new hires or contract nurses from other sources,” Cummins said.
Cummins still encourages mask-wearing and social distancing as vaccination efforts continue.