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COVID-19 hospitalizations up 47% in past month in North Texas

Patients in hospitals are also younger than previous pandemic peaks.

FORT WORTH, Texas — COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate in Texas are all increasing.

“There is an uptick, and that's not really surprising,” Dr. Diana Cervantes, the director of UNTHSC’s epidemiology program said.

Cervantes calls the current period of dealing with COVID an "in-between time."

“This is just a routine vaccine-preventable disease at this point," Cervantes said.

Monday, Texas crossed 50% of eligible people -- those 12 and older -- fully vaccinated. Now, more than 12 million Texans have received both doses of an mRNA vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The effort has slowed, though, to the lowest level since the winter storm with an average of 55,292 vaccines administered per day in the past week.

It took 51 days for Texas to get its positivity rate from 5.25% down to 2.81%, the state’s low mark, but it has taken 16 days to go back up to 5.25%.

“Most of the people in the hospital, over 99% are unvaccinated,” Stephen Love, the president and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council said.

He says most of the patients hospitals are seeing are younger than the previous peak because most older adults have been fully vaccinated.

RELATED: Fauci: 99% of US virus deaths are unvaccinated people

His number matches a recent review from the Associated Press that found 99.2% of COVID deaths in May and 98.9% of hospitalizations were unvaccinated Americans.

While COVID hospitalizations have dropped 90% from their winter peak in the North Texas hospital region, they’re now up 47% in the past month as life returns to normal for most.

“With people being transient, obviously moving around, a lot of mobility, the Delta variant and unvaccinated [people], we could see those numbers increase,” Love said.

Love says there’s no judgment against the unvaccinated.

“We respect people’s opinion, but we're just trying to give them the facts,” he said.

Cervantes believes until COVID vaccination becomes mandatory like measles, polio and hepatitis, Texas will continue to deal with the virus every year much like the flu and says waiting for others to be vaccinated first isn’t an option.

“We're going to get there the one way or the other, but it does seem like we're getting there in the harder way, by getting immunized via natural infection,” she said.

The flu kills an average of 100 Americans per day. In the past week, COVID-19 killed an average of 217 Americans per day.

UT Southwestern projects unless the vaccination rate increases or masking and distancing resume, cases and hospitalizations will continue to rise in North Texas with a significant increase coming in the fall as kids head back to school.

In this "in-between time," Cervantes says the level of suffering in Texas is up to each person to decide.

“We can control transmission. We can control these things,” she said. “We can go out and get vaccinated.”