‘I think we’re going to be choosing between getting the COVID infection or getting the vaccine’: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas continue to rise

Health officials in east Texas are concerned about rising hospitalization rates.
Health officials in east Texas are concerned about rising hospitalization rates.(Pixabay)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:09 AM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KSLA) - On June 22, 1,507 Texans were hospitalized with COVID-19. Now, one month later, 3,566 patients are in hospitals across the Lone Star state; that’s a 136% increase.

It goes without saying that the current level of hospitalizations in Texas is still significantly smaller than previous peaks in the pandemic, when at one point in early 2021, more than 14,000 patients were hospitalized. But on a daily basis, as vaccination rates remain stagnant, hospitalizations continue to trend upwards once again.

“It makes me saddened, whenever I see disease that’s preventable. I’m highly motivated to do whatever I can to help people prevent that disease,” said Dr. Andria Cardinalli-Stein, an internist with CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic. “When we have effective treatments like this vaccine for COVID, it is preventable... nothing it 100 percent, but 95 percent protection is pretty good.”

Dr. Cardinalli-Stein is convinced the rising number of hospitalizations correlates with the state’s average vaccination rate. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, nearly 12.5 million Texans are fully vaccinated, which is about 42% of the state.

The national average, according to the CDC, is 48%.

“I think we are going to be choosing between getting the COVID infection and getting the vaccine,” she explained. “This COVID virus is prevalent, and it’s so tricky honestly.”

In some east Texas counties, the vaccination rate is even lower than the state average. In Harrison County, for example, only 31% of people 12 and older are vaccinated. However, 57% of people 65 and older are fully protected.

In Panola County, the statistics are similar, with 25% of people 12 and older fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, 52% of those 65 and older have completed the vaccination cycle.

“I think there is a lot of mask fatigue and people want to get back to living the way they were before, we’re not masking and socially distancing,” Dr. Cardinalli-Stein said. “If we had a 60 to 70 percent vaccination rate in our counties, we could probably return to normal and not see a rise in cases.”

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