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COVID in Houston: More people are being admitted to TMC hospitals on a daily basis than ever before

The weekly average of daily new COVID-19 hospitalizations has surpassed the delta peak.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 numbers in the Greater Houston area have reached record levels and health experts believe the peak of omicron is still a couple of weeks away.

According to the Texas Medical Center, more people are being admitted to its hospitals daily than ever before. It’s creating a strain on hospitals where more healthcare workers are getting sick.

"Last week, we had over 1,100 staff who had COVID and were unable to come to work on their normal schedules," said Roberta Schwartz, the executive vice president for Methodist Hospital. "We’ve had to really juggle our staffing and constrain our beds."

RELATED: Where to get a free COVID-19 test in the Houston area

RELATED: Texas Children's reports COVID cases more than double in one week with 12 babies in ICU

Last week, TMC averaged 401 new COVID admissions per day. Compared to the previous week, there was an average of 201 new COVID hospitalization per day, and in November there was an average of 56 hospitalizations per day.

"I will tell you it’s very nerve wracking to be going up at this rate," Schwartz said.

At Methodist, about 60 percent of hospitalized patients are showing up because of COVID symptoms. The rest tested positive after being admitted for other issues.

At Ben Taub, Dr. Robert Atmar says more than half of its patients who tested positive were admitted with non-COVID issues.

"Because we’re testing everybody who comes in, we’re identifying those people who are infected but coming in for a different reason," Dr. Atmar said. "That said, there are still patients being admitted with omicron variant for COVID."

The new COVID-19 positivity rate for testing in the Texas Medical Center is now much higher than the delta peak. As of January 2, the positivity rate from the TMC stood at 28 percent. When the delta variant reached its peak, the positivity rate hit 15 percent.

The weekly average of daily new cases is also much higher than the delta surge. About 5,600 people are testing positive each day. In November, TMC recorded an average of only 232 new cases per day.

Click here for more key takeaways from the Texas Medical Center.

Houston Methodist said it's seeing a significant number of positive COVID cases among younger patients and breakthrough infections with people who have been vaccinated. 

The hospital does note the omicron variant appears to be much less severe. 

Houston Methodist takeaways from the first 862 omicron patients:

  • The median age of COVID-19 patients is 38.9
  • 16% were admitted to the hospital for a median of 3 days
  • 50% were fully vaccinated
  • 10% had a booster shot
  • 99% survived

RELATED: Houston Health Department seeing rise in breakthrough infections during omicron wave

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