BEAUMONT, Texas — Good news on this Good Friday. COVID-19 hospitalizations are going down in Southeast Texas.
There was a spike throughout the winter months, but things are looking positive now. As of Friday night in Jefferson County, the numbers have dropped. About 6 percent of patients in ICU have COVID-19, and about 7 percent in general beds have the virus.
Regionally, COVID-19 patients make up more than 15 percent of those in ICU.
And more than 7 percent of patients in general beds. The total hospitalization rate for the region is at 8.5 percent.
Southeast Texas is lucky to have a drop in COVID-19 cases. Some other parts of the country are seeing another surge in cases.
Beaumont Dr. Msonthi Levine said while COVID-19 cases may persist for some time, Southeast Texas is in a good spot when it comes to having a grip on the virus.
"I just can't see how it's gonna be anywhere close to where it was just because again our immunity is totally different than a year ago," Dr. Levine said.
Dr. Levine said he doesn't expect another major surge in cases like we've seen in the past.
He said more Southeast Texans being vaccinated, coupled with less people showing severe COVID symptoms, indicates we're a lot better off than we were a year ago.
"We're getting closer and closer to that magic number of...I think it's 70, 80 percent of immunity that they would like to see before they can comfortably give the OK," Dr. Levine said.
That magic number to reach herd immunity is 75 percent.
And while Dr. Levine praises the progress we've made in getting Southeast Texans vaccinated, our local numbers say we still have a long way to go.
For example, only 13 percent of people in Jefferson County have been fully vaccinated. As for those age 80 and over in the county, roughly 3,000 are fully vaccinated, which is a lot less than all other age groups.
Dr. Praphul Joshi with Lamar University is also pleased with the COVID-19 situation here in Southeast Texas, saying the number of cases, especially in more vulnerable populations, is down recently.
"Very few people ages 65 plus have gotten the disease, so it's been predominantly among the younger age groups, so their outcomes should be much better," Dr. Joshi said.
Dr. Joshi also said it will be important in the coming weeks and months for those 16 and over to get vaccinated to keep us moving in the right direction.
"Now that vaccination is open for anyone,” Dr. Joshi said. “As soon as possible, whenever there is a chance, go get vaccinated so that we can all contribute towards the herd immunity."
Both doctors said while they're not concerned about another surge in cases, they still want people to be safe and wear their masks this Easter weekend.