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Fourth wave in COVID cases is predictable and preventable, Texas Medical Center leaders say

Both Houston Methodist and Memorial Hermann are reporting big jumps in hospitalizations since the 4th of July holiday.

HOUSTON — Health leaders in the Texas Medical Center say COVID numbers are moving in the wrong direction quickly.

Both Houston Methodist and Memorial Hermann are reporting big jumps in hospitalizations since the 4th of July holiday.

Nearly all new cases and hospitalizations are among people who are not vaccinated, according to health leaders.

"We’re clearly seeing the beginning of the fourth wave of this pandemic, which is alarming at best," said TMC CEO Bill McKeon.

McKeon says COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 90% in the last two weeks across the Texas Medical Center.

Memorial Hermann has seen a 200% increase. A few weeks ago, it was down to 100 patients with COVID-19 across all 13 hospitals in the health system. Now they have 270 patients.

"That’s about 25% of what we were like last July at the peak, but we haven't hit the peak yet. This is the beginning. The inflection curve is on a steep uphill. It wouldn’t surprise me if we got to 400 or 500 COVID patients before this wave crests," said Dr. James McCarthy with Memorial Hermann Health System.

With about half of the population in Harris County not vaccinated, Dr. McCarthy says what we’re seeing now is both predictable and preventable.

The Texas Medical Center hosted a press conference Tuesday to discuss the concerning trend. Doctors say the Delta variant is clearly taking hold in Houston, now making up more than 80% of cases.

"I do think right now if you went into a place with a lot of people and you can’t tell who is vaccinated, I’d wear a mask. I still wear a mask when I walk into a grocery store," said Dr. Paul Klotman, President and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine.

The big message is for people to get vaccinated.

There have been some breakthrough cases where people get COVID even after getting the vaccine, but that’s pretty rare.

Doctors say the shots are very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

Houston Methodist told KHOU 11 on Monday they identified the first case of the Lambda variant in Houston.

The Lambda variant was first identified in Peru, and it quickly became dominant there.

It may be a more contagious variant, just like the Delta, but it’s pretty new and being researched, so doctors don’t know how big of an impact it’ll have in Houston yet.

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