DALLAS — Talk of COVID-19 can bring up both bad memories and emotions, but doctors and researchers are warning the virus is surging again.
“I think we need to maintain vigilance and pay attention to this,” Dr. Mark Casanova, a Baylor Scott & White doctor and member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force, said. “There’s definitely an increase in cases in North Texas and it’s actually following a national trend.”
Nationwide, hospitalizations are up about 20% in the last month.
In Texas, they’re up more than 70% during that span to 1,238 people according to the state’s most recent report.
In the metroplex, there’s been a 140% rise in the last six weeks from 134 people to 323 from July 21 to Sept. 1 according to the DFW Hospital Council.
“The behavior of this strain seems to be on par with the various omicron strains that we’ve seen,” Casanova said. “We’re not seeing individuals get particularly more sick than before.”
Dallas County Health Director Dr. Phil Huang points out the region is still far below COVID peaks, hospitals are prepared and there are already treatments even though most patients are able to be treated at home.
“We’re not where we were before but we’re still monitoring it and see where to go from here,” Huang said. “The numbers are much lower than they’ve been at the worst but they’re definitely increasing.”
With few people testing, they’re using wastewater to gauge the virus’s rise which has also been a significant increase.
“People who are at high risk should try to do everything they can always to be protecting themselves,” Huang said.
There’s been a pattern of summer travel and school year starts leading to surges.
“This is a very transmissible virus and I think that’s always been important to remember,” Casanova said.
Huang and Casanova both say anyone positive or feeling sick should stay home, people with weak immune systems should probably mask, and a new booster expected in a few weeks could help everyone.
Casanova says it’s will early to know if a COVID booster will become a yearly occurrence similar to a flu shot.
“A lot of reasons for us to take this seriously, not panic, but consider getting that booster,” he said. “Masks still work, and vaccines save lives.”