Health officials predict North Texas could see winter spike in COVID-19 cases

The medical community is gearing up for a possible winter spike of COVID-19. 

The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) said, based on their projections, COVID hospitalizations in Dallas County could see a significant jump in the next few weeks as more gather indoors. 

Experts said it’s still too early to tell how the new omicron variant might affect North Texas, but the delta variant is still a concern. With COVID hospitalizations projected to rise at Parkland Hospital by more than 40%.

"The pandemic certainly has been one of the most challenging things that we've had to deal with," said Steve Miff, PhD, CEO of the PCCI.

For the last decade, the PCCI has been collecting data identifying some of the most vulnerable communities in Dallas County.

But with the ongoing pandemic, their work has become even more valuable than ever, collecting real-time, hyper-localized data on COVID cases, testing, and more.

"In addition to that, is the vaccinations that who's receiving where, what dose, all that information," Miff added.

Parkland Hospital has been able to use forecast data and scenario mapping to plan for bed space, ventilators, and staffing. 

The data has also helped Dallas County Health and Human Services decide which neighborhoods to focus more resources, like vaccine clinics and testing sites. 

"How do we bring those locations where people need, most convenient, also to inform and understand," Miff said. "Well, where do people actually spend their time, not only when they're in their home, but what are the some of the locations that they most frequently visit?"

MORE: Omicron variant detected in North Texas by Frisco lab

Miff added that the southern parts of Dallas continue to be the most underserved. 

"We've seen it with COVID. We're seeing it as we look at pediatric asthma cases. We're seeing it as we build and deploy predictive models for preterm birth or some of the other components," he explained.

Miff also said only 10% of Dallas County have gotten a booster shot so far and about 45% of the county has been infected with COVID-19.

A significant portion of the county has no immunity at all. 

"We have about 12% of the population that likely has no immunity, not previously. In fact, there [are those who] have not been vaccinated, and by far they're at the highest risk. And that represents, if you think about just Dallas County, roughly 300,000 people," Miff explained.

PCCI said, based on behavior patterns and what they’ve seen in the past, they do expect to see that significant bump in hospitalizations between now and January.