Texas monitoring increase in COVID-19 cases

Hospital beds are currently available in Austin. As of Tuesday, there were 124 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the five-county metro area

However in one 24-hour period this week, the daily number of active cases locally jumped. The jump is a reflection of a statewide, upward trend linked to the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is now starting to look like a spike.

"We're pretty concerned, at the Health Department. Its something we are watching real closely," said Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In its daily COVID-19 report, DSHS counted 2,613 new cases on Tuesday, a number that dropped to 2,154 on Wednesday. There were also 2,436 hospitalizations on Tuesday, while numbers for Wednesday were not immediately available.

It’s a big jump from what was happening during the spring when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and businesses were reopening. For example on June 1st, there were 94 confirmed cases and on June 27th, the daily number of hospitalizations dropped to 1,428. 

There were a lot more cases back in the winter, when overflow hospitals were set up and the state counted well over 10,000 people in a hospital on a given day.

"I dont know if there is any reason to believe we are going to get back to that level because vaccinations have gone up, so much," said Van Deusen.

What's happening may not be a winter rebound, but health officials say they want to reverse the current trend. Doing that involves convincing people the threat is not over.

"The number one thing, of course is to get vaccinated. We need as many people to get vaccinated, and follow up and get your second dose," said Van Deusen.

Even people who had all their shots are advised not to lower their guard. The Delta variant is aggressive and there are reports that some people who have been vaccinated have gotten mild cases of the virus. 

Vaccination outreach campaigns are now stepping up to address the Delta variant spike but also in recognition that the new school year is approaching. In response to the uptick in cases and the upcoming school year, the operators of several local clinics decided to ramp up a treatment option.

"This is certainly preventative, this is no way, shape or form, panic," said Jen Stratton with Family Hospital Systems.

Inside a secured area at a FHS family ER clinic in Cedar Park, monoclonal antibody IV infusions are given. Administrators with the Family Hospital Systems have started purchasing additional doses in order to build a stockpile.

"Especially now that this treatment is approved for the 12 to 17 population, we can only see benefit in making sure we have enough on hand for any eventuality," said Stratton.

So far this month FHS at all of its clinics has provided 14 monoclonal antibody IVs. Since January, 187 patients have been treated.

What remains unknown is what will happen this fall as younger children return to school. For them, there is no opportunity for a vaccine, or antibody IVs - and state officials have prevented mask mandates in schools.

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