Jan 12, 2022 - COVID

UT models: COVID hospitalizations could be 2.6 times higher than 2021

A photo of a woman administering a COVID test.
Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

University of Texas researchers found that the highly transmissible Omicron variant — coupled with the ongoing Delta wave — could lead to record peaks through January if the country does not move quickly to take mitigation measures.

Details: Hospital admissions could be 2.6 times higher than January 2021's hospitalization peak, according to new projections by postdoctoral researcher Anass Bouchnita and the team at the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

Why it matters: Hospitals across the country, including in Austin, have been pushed to the brink with the most recent surge.

  • Researchers analyzed optimistic and pessimistic scenarios to project the future of Omicron cases, hospitalizations and death.

The big picture: Without mitigation efforts, UT modelers project that COVID cases across the country could be 3.3% higher than in 2021. A milder surge with mitigation efforts could peak on Jan. 13 and reach hospitalization levels that are still 1.2 times higher than in January 2021.

  • "The bad news is that even the optimistic scenario expects that the hospitalization will exceed the record numbers," Bouchnita said.
  • Hospitalizations in the U.S. are already nearing 2021's peak.
  • "I'm not saying it's too late, but the effects or the impacts will be a little bit less than if mitigation were adopted as soon as Omicron arrived," Bouchnita added.

State health officials reported 11,040 COVID patients in Texas hospitals Tuesday.

  • The Austin area reported that 14.6% of its beds were occupied, meaning that roughly 600 COVID patients are receiving care in the area's 4,124 available beds.

"It shouldn't be underestimated," Bouchnita said.

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