Summer heat sparks uptick in local COVID hospitalizations

6 months 1 week 1 day ago Monday, August 14 2023 Aug 14, 2023 August 14, 2023 12:42 PM August 14, 2023 in News - Local

Local health officials are seeing an uptick in new covid infections.

In Hidalgo County, Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez says COVID infections have been rising steadily.

Hidalgo County's last COVID report shows 453 new infections, with 41 people hospitalized with the virus. Five months ago, 38 were hospitalized, and new infections topped 170.

Dr. Melendez attributes the infection spike to summer travel and people trying to beat the heat by staying indoors.

"And then come together inside the house with grandma or your uncle that has diabetes or your cousin that's on dialysis, we know that those numbers are going to increase because they're more accumulated," Dr. Melendez said.

Health officials are also monitoring two new COVID variants, both are offshoots of Omicron.

Dr. Melendez says while it isn't causing people to get as sick, it is impacting the vulnerable.

"The reason it's important because those people that are at high risk, they're very sick, they're very old, they're very frail, they're very young, they're getting exposed to more and more people that have it," Dr. Melendez said.

Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo is also monitoring the new variants. 

"Right now peoples immune systems are probably in this in between zone, and you've got a circulating variant, and then you get a bunch of cases," Dr. Castillo said.

250 new infections were logged in Cameron County last week. A drop from what was seen two weeks ago when more than 350 new covid cases were reported. 

While hospitalizations average in the 30s in Hidalgo County, in Cameron County they're much lower; only 11 were hospitalized last week.

Dr. Castillo says just as the virus has evolved, so has treatment.

"Even how we manage a COVID patient in the hospital looks way more like how we would manage influenza in terms of the precautions," Dr. Castillo said.

The CDC is expected to issue recommendations soon about a new COVID booster, just in time for fall, when COVID cases and hospitalizations typically increase.

Anyone who develops COVID symptoms are urged by health officials to get tested. Those who test positive are asked to consult with their doctor and isolate to keep others from getting infected.

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