by Kevin Reynolds and Carla Astudillo, The Texas Tribune.
People under 50 are being admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 in larger numbers than at any point during the pandemic as the latest surge of the coronavirus continues to tighten its grip on Texas.
According to data released by the Texas Department of State Health Services, as of Aug. 22, adults 30 to 49 now account for roughly 29% of all COVID-19 hospital admissions in Texas, up from 15% on Jan. 11 during the height of the winter surge.
The data shows that people in the 18-29 age group increased their share of admissions during that period from 5% to 7%, while the percentage of children under 18 admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 increased by 1 percentage point — an average of 46 children each day were hospitalized during the week ending Aug 22.
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Meanwhile, fewer people over 70 are landing in hospitals with COVID-19. During the winter peak, about 41% of hospitalized COVID patients were over 70. As of Aug. 22, that dropped by almost half, to 23%.
The data confirmed what many doctors have been saying in recent weeks about the delta variant sending younger people into hospitals at a higher rate than earlier in the pandemic.
“We are seeing certainly younger patients hospitalized and younger patients on ventilators where we haven’t seen that before,” said Dr. Ron Cook, chief health officer at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
This variant has spread faster among unvaccinated Texans of all ages. As of last week, between 93% and 98% of hospitalizations have been unvaccinated people, depending on the area of Texas, officials said.
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More than 70% of Texans over the age of 50 are fully vaccinated, compared to only about half of Texans between the ages of 16 and 49 and one-third of those ages 12-15. Children under age 12 are not eligible for vaccination.
Statewide, 13,932 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Aug. 25, nearing the record of more than 14,200 on Jan. 11.
The number of available intensive care unit beds has also reached a new low during the pandemic: As of Aug. 25, only 356 ICU beds were available statewide for critically ill patients.
Disclosure: Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.