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COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to rise in Texas

Hospitals in Texas's largest cities are admitting more patients as the number of available beds shows a sharp decrease.

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s the virus that won’t go away – COVID-19 – and isn’t likely to anytime soon. On Friday, there was another surge in the number of hospitalizations in Texas as COVID-19 infections rose again. 

Texas Department of State Health Services officials report the weekly average of hospitalizations is up 19% from last week, and that’s causing a strain on hospitals in the state’s largest cities. According to a KVUE News analysis of the data, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 89% of the available hospital beds are full; in Houston and vicinity, it's a similar story where 88% of all hospital beds are taken. In the Central Texas region including Austin, 82% of all hospital beds are full. 

Why all the new cases of the virus? 

Health experts believe that some of it may be caused by “COVID burn-out” as people take fewer precautions like wearing masks, despite the fact that it’s a very contagious illness.

"Sometimes people are letting down their guard and not wearing a mask or gathering with large groups and this virus is very tricky," said Dr. David Lakey, a member of Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force. “If it has the opportunity to spread, it will.”

Meanwhile, new data on Friday from the state health department indicated the death rate from COVID-19 continues to take a heavy toll on the Hispanic population. Fifty-six percent of deadly cases from the virus affected Hispanic residents, even though Hispanic individuals only make up 38% of the state’s population. 

So, how close is the world to a COVID-19 vaccine?

"We need to anticipate that’s it’s going to be mid-spring and maybe into summer, depending on whether we’re vulnerable individuals and we qualify for early immunizations," Dr. Lakey said. “I think a vaccine will be coming, but it’s going to take a little while.”

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