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State hospitalizations increase as COVID-19 delta variant spreads; Hendrick seeing uptick in COVID-19 patients

State hospitalizations increase as COVID-19 delta variant spreads; Hendrick seeing uptick in COVID-19 patients

The most recent data shows that less than half of the country’s population (48.6%) has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In Texas, only 45% of Texans are vaccinated and hospitalizations in the state are increasing for the first time in months.

The Texas Department of State Health Service’s (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, said he believes the increase is likely a result of the more transmissible delta variant and warned that hospitalizations likely will continue to rise as the variant circulates.

Taylor County and the surrounding counties are also reporting more COVID-19 cases, and Hendrick Health is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations on all campuses.

“At Hendrick, 9 out of 10 patients admitted to one of our hospitals with COVID-19 in the last 30-60 days, have had no vaccine,” said Brad Holland, president and CEO for Hendrick Health. “In addition, the average age of those patients is 55 years old, which is 10 years less than six months ago. That is a significant change.”

Many in the community continue to have questions about testing for the delta variant.

“While we don’t have the means to test for and identify the delta variant, we know that patients are COVID-19 positive,” said Holland. “Testing for variants requires specialized genomic mapping and sequencing equipment only available at the state levels, and states are ‘sampling’ COVID-19 positive cases to determine the variant spread as a percent of total COVID-19 cases.”

In a July 16 media briefing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. "If you remain unvaccinated, you are at risk," she said.

With so much information and misinformation about the delta variant, Hendrick Health has highlighted some key information.

  • A recent study suggests the delta variant spreads 225% faster than the original strain.
  • The delta variant affects younger patients in a more severe way than the original strain.
  • Symptoms and treatments are the same regardless of variant type.
  • Depending on the Pfizer study, vaccine efficacy rates range from 64% – 90% protective against the delta variant and more than 95% effective at preventing hospitalizations. The remaining percent who contract COVID-19 (delta strain) are expected to have milder symptoms as a result of getting fully vaccinated.
  • Variant testing confirmation only occurs at the state level.

“The evidence is clear - we know that vaccines work to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations, reduce the severity of illness and in most cases, provide immunity,” said Holland. “I encourage our community members to get vaccinated.”