This week was “Meet the Teacher” Night in Dallas and Tarrant county. When parents arrived for this annual event, excitement and anxiety filled the air. Parents are concerned about sending their children to school amidst the dramatic rise in North Texas Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta Variant.
For several weeks experts warned us of rising Covid-19 Delta Variant cases sweeping across North Texas. The Delta variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta), was first identified in India in late 2020. This strain rapidly spread worldwide and is now the dominant variant in the United States, including Texas.
The CDC reports that the Delta variant accounts for 93% of current US Cases. The Delta variant is the most contagious so far. It passes easily and quickly from person to person. Children also catch the delta variant at a higher right than the original Covid-19 virus. A mutation in the spike protein makes the virus more “sticky.” It is more contagious and spreads in children faster than the original Covid-19 strain.
All Texans want children back in school, but we disagree on how to do it safely.
Governor Abbot, who typically advocates for local control, has switched gears and taken a top-down approach. The Governor’s May Executive Order mandated no mask mandates. Abbott took control away from superintendents and consolidated his power in Austin.
Parents in Dallas and Tarrant County are faced with tough decisions. How do parents send their children to school safely in the middle of a North Texas Covid surge?
So far, 52,555 Texans have lost their lives to Covid-19. Many people are still in the mindset of “this won’t happen to me.” Now is the time to shift our thinking and face reality in our communities.
The University of Texas Southwestern, located in Dallas, provides updated data to help parents guide their decisions. The medical school publishes publically available projections an epidemiological model.
Three weeks ago, I had zero patients with Covid-19. This weekend I cared for seven pregnant patients with the virus. The three local hospitals where I work are full of patients in the ICU.
The UT Southwestern data demonstrates the exact rise that I am seeing working as a local physician. The projections for the next few weeks are alarming.
UT Southwestern is projecting a substantial increase in the number of hospitalizations over the next few weeks. Hospital admissions are up 99% in two weeks and 346% in the past month.
Check out the blue line in the chart. The blue line is the estimate of hospitalizations for the next three weeks. If cases continue at this pace, we will be dangerously close to surpassing available hospital capacity in Dallas and Tarrant County.
In our hospitals, more young people are coming in with severe Covid infections requiring hospitalizations. UT Southwestern data reports that people under 65 represent the largest share of hospitalizations.
The data also shows the overwhelming majority of patients with severe disease requiring ICU care are unvaccinated people.
The UT Southwestern projections also show the people of Dallas and Tarrant County have the power to change the course of the virus.
In this chart, the data scientists show the effect of basic mitigation strategies. If we increase the rate of vaccination locally and keep our masks on, we can save lives.
The orange line shows what happens if we do nothing different. The green line shows how quickly we can make a substantial difference by covering our faces and getting as many people a life-saving Covid-19 vaccine as possible.
There are three FDA-approved vaccines for Covid-19. The two messenger RNA vaccines from Moderna and Phizer offer 95% protection against Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA). A single strand of mRNA delivers instructions to human cells to produce an antibody against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine offers 72% protection against infection and 86% against severe disease. The Janssen vaccine uses Adenovirus 26 (AD26) as the vector to deliver DNA material into our cells to provoke an immune response.
The FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine for kids age 12–15 years old after Phase 3 study data showed the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in this age group.
None of the vaccines contain a live virus. One can not catch Covid-19 from a vaccine. The vaccines do not enter the nucleus of the cells and do not alter our DNA.
The American College of Obgyn and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommends all pregnant women get a Covid-19 vaccine. The protective antibodies can save women’s lives and help protect the newborn.
Vaccines are available everywhere. They are free. We can help protect children going back to school by increasing vaccination rates.
Children who are 12 years old and older can get their Pfizer vaccine today. Adults can help protect the community by getting any of the three available Covid shots.
Children under age 12 are counting on us to protect them. We can slow the spread of Covid-19 by getting vaccinated.
Protect yourself. Protect others. Protect the children.
Get your shot today.