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Hospitalizations in North Texas expected to increase, UT Southwestern analysis says

UT Southwestern says it's too early to estimate prevalence, transmissibility or immunity escape of the omicron variant in North Texas

DALLAS — UT Southwestern predicts that COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Texas will continue to slowly increase if behaviors such as masking, social distancing and vaccination rates remain the same.

COVID hospitalizations have already been increasing over the past two weeks in Dallas and Tarrant counties.

Most positive test samples at UT Southwestern are confirmed cases of the delta variant. The omicron variant has been confirmed in cases in over 40 states.

So far, there has been one case each of omicron confirmed for Tarrant, Collin and Dallas counties, UT Southwestern reported on Dec. 15

At least two of those patients did not have a recent travel history, indicating that local transmission of the variant is ongoing, said UT Southwestern in its latest COVID analysis and forecast.

RELATED: Yes, you can be infected with the delta and omicron coronavirus variants at the same time

More cases of omicron are being confirmed across the country but rapid tests available at home or with health care providers don't tell you if you have omicron or not; they just tell you if you have COVID.

UT Southwestern says it's too early to estimate any variant-specific parameters, such as prevalence, transmissibility or immunity escape of the variant in North Texas.

Does the omicron variant cause more serious infections? It's a little early to say for sure, but there have been a number of deaths from omicron, said Dr. David Winter with Baylor Scott & White. The best thing we can do is prepare for it in advance, he says.

Get vaccinated

"A compelling study released by TX DSHS found that unvaccinated Texans were twenty times more likely to die from COVID-19. Vaccination remains our most powerful tool for preventing severe COVID-19," Winter said.

The vast majority of patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 in our area are unvaccinated, UTSouthwestern said. All Texans over the age of 5 are now eligible for vaccination.

"We remain very cautious and are concerned over the next 3-4 weeks that omicron could become dominant resulting in higher COVID-19 cases," said President/CEO W. Stephen Love with the DFW Hospital Council. "We urge people to get vaccinated, get the booster, wear masks and physical distance."

With omicron, if it's been more than 6 months since your second shot, you should get a COVID booster shot, Winter says. 

Dallas and Tarrant counties

The trajectory of cases and hospitalizations still depends on behavior, such as masking and social distancing, and vaccination rates.

Over the past two weeks, COVID hospitalizations have increased by 6% in Dallas County and by 13% in Tarrant County, UT Southwestern reported.

Dallas County total COVID hospitalizations are predicted to reach 350 concurrent hospitalized cases by Jan. 3. In Tarrant County, it's 360 hospitalized by Jan. 3.

New COVID infections expected per day by Jan. 3:

  • Dallas County: Roughly 650
  • Tarrant County: Roughly 570


The percent test positivity for influenza in Texas has sharply increased. An increasing share of hospital visits are related to influenza-like symptoms, and the first death in Dallas from the flu this season has been recorded, UTSouthwestern reported. 

These numbers for influenza remain below normal baselines but are much higher than last year.

Gathering for the holidays

The Texas Medical Association released guidance for a COVID-safe holiday gathering.

First, get vaccinated and get your booster shot before the holidays.

In addition to getting the vaccine and the booster, the TMA COVID-19 Task Force physicians recommend the following measures for safer holiday gatherings:

  • If you are not boosted, take a rapid antigen test shortly before the gathering to ensure you don’t have an infection that you could spread to loved ones;
  • Wear a mask while gathering in crowded public venues; and
  • Plan outdoor gatherings when possible, or open windows at indoor celebrations.


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