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North Texas COVID-19 hospitalizations trending toward previous winter peak by October, UTSW projects

A UT Southwestern data report released Wednesday projected 800-1,000 hospitalizations in Dallas County by Aug. 16.

DALLAS — The latest COVID-19 data projections from UT Southwestern are forecasting case rates and hospitalizations that would mirror North Texas' winter's peak, as the Delta variant continues to surge in the region and vaccinations lag.

The Southwestern data report released Wednesday projected 800-1,000 hospitalizations in Dallas County by Aug. 16, and 1,100-2,000 hospitalizations in Tarrant County.

Regionwide, the data projected hospitalizations by October to climb beyond the peak of 4,000 that North Texas saw in January, if vaccination rates stay the same.

For comparison, the Southwestern report two weeks ago projected 150-200 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas County by Aug. 2 and 200-260 hospitalizations in Tarrant County. The two counties have already surpassed those levels, with Dallas County reporting 376 hospitalizations this week and Tarrant County reporting 457. Read the full report from Southwestern here.

The projections are based on snapshot data of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Monday and Tuesday.

In Dallas County, hospitalizations have increased 99% over the last two weeks, according to the Southwestern data. They've increased 97% in the last two weeks in Tarrant County. Across North Texas, hospitalizations are up 230% over the last month, and the regionwide positivity rate has climbed to nearly 15%, the highest level since January.

RELATED: COVID-19 updates: Dallas County and Texas both report highest number of daily cases since early February

Here were a few more highlights from the Southwestern report:

  • The fastest growth rate for hospitalizations in North Texas is happening in the 18-49 age group. People 65 and older are also seeing a growing hospitalization rate.
  • If vaccination rates stay at their current pace, and restrictions are put in place, then hospitalizations are projected to climb beyond their fall 2020/winter 2021 levels by October across North Texas.
  • If the vaccination rate triples, then cases and hospitalizations would begin to trend downward over the next two months.

The Southwestern report built its latest data modeling off several measures: Overall mobility among residents, such as whether social distancing is happening or not; doctor visits for COVID-19 symptoms; positivity rate; current hospitalizations; and vaccination levels.

As of this week, 51.96% of eligible residents in Dallas County have been fully vaccinated, according to state data.

In Tarrant County, 50.2% of eligible residents have been vaccinated.

Both counties slightly trail the statewide percentage of 52.32% of eligible residents being fully vaccinated.

Collin and Denton counties lead the North Texas region with vaccination rates of 61.93% and 55.81%, respectively.

RELATED: UT Southwestern releases guide for talking to people who are vaccine-hesitant, addresses most common concerns

The latest data projections come the same week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new mask guidance, recommending that even fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high.

Also this week, Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in Texas, announced it will require all employees, volunteers and vendors to get fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.

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