DALLAS - Statewide, health officials are beginning to see COVID-19 cases decrease. Metro areas like DFW and Houston are seeing it first.
Sadly, fatalities are still on the way up. But some leading indicators are now on the way down.
Texas’ Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Shuford says some of the state’s largest communities have made it over the mountain.
"Texas is a big place. And so, there are some communities like the Houston area or the Dallas-Fort Worth area where we're seeing good decreases in cases," she said. "The areas that got hit earliest with the omicron surge seem to have a good decrease in their cases currently."
DFW Hospital Council numbers show the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the North Texas area has this week remained below 4,000 after hitting nearly 4,200 last week.
It’s a reason for cautious optimism. Yet, the virus is still widespread.
Nearly a third of people are still testing positive. Past surges peaked at one in five people.
"We are at almost historic numbers of new cases being reported to us every day even over the last day," Dr. Shuford said. "We had 30,000 new confirmed cases reported to us but far more than what we have seen in previous surges."
Child vaccination rates remain a concern for doctors. Among children aged five to eleven, state data shows less than 16% are fully vaccinated. Just more than a quarter have at least one dose.
"There's plenty of vaccines all across the state," Dr. Shuford said. "And pediatricians are recommending that those parents get their kids vaccinated to protect them not only against COVID but against those long-term complications from COVID and MIS-C, which can be a shorter-term but very severe complications from COVID-19."
For now, doctors are optimistic omicron leaves us as quickly as it arrived.
"So far, the signs are good. What we're seeing in the Houston area is that they had a really steep increase in their cases, and the sharpness of their decline was similar or really kind of symmetric pattern," Dr. Shuford said. "We're hoping to see the same in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and all across the state."
The most recent data from the Department of State Health Services shows compared to those who are vaccinated, those unvaccinated are 16 times as likely to die of a COVID-related illness.