The latest data from Houston and Harris County public health officials shows a promising update for the coronavirus and the omicron variant. But COVID-19 continues to impact lives.
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Here’s what you need to know:
Houston May Be Past the Omicron Peak, Say Public Health Officials
Houston and Harris County health officials maintained a Level 1: Severe Threat level even as the numbers of new cases of the coronavirus stabilized January 25, 2022. As of Monday, January 24, there were 160,656 active cases of COVID-19 and 6,880 deaths, according to the COVID-19 Data Hub. Between January 17 and January 24, there were fewer than 5,000 new cases following several weeks in a row in which cases doubled. There were 44 new deaths in the weeklong period, a slight increase from the previous week, in which 35 deaths were reported.
Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer of the City of Houston, told KHOU 11 he hopes to see the trend in case numbers continue.
“While not a surprise, it certainly is good to see,” Persse told the news outlet on January 24. “We hope that it’s gonna continue.”
Persse also told the news outlet the wastewater virus load was dropping significantly. The latest test results showed the virus load was 319%, down from 725%, KHOU 11 reported.
“Still, we’re at over 300 percent of what it was in July 6, 2020,” he said. “So, that was the first big wave. That was a respectively high wave. So, we’re still three times that. So, while the numbers are coming down, the numbers are high.”
The Texas Medical Center’s January 23 report showed a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with an average of 400 new COVID-19 patients each day the week of January 17. There was an average of 418 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day the previous week.
Persse told KHOU 11 the hospitalization rate is dropping more slowly than other metrics because unlike other variants, omicron had a greater impact on vaccinated people, whereas other variants primarily impacted the unvaccinated.
“It passed around through that population,” Persse told KHOU 11. “It has now gotten into some of the folks who are vaccinated but for whom the vaccine may not have been quite so robust. So, we’re seeing a lot more elder patients, a lot of nursing home patients who are requiring hospitalization. It’s an unfortunate consequence, not a huge surprise.”
Houston Nightclub Owner Made National Headlines for Innovative Business Model
Robert Thomas, owner of District 1960, was featured on CBS News for transforming his nightclub business into a grocer featuring Black vendors. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Thomas to shut down his music venue, so he decided to shift his business model, he told CBS News. Thomas opened District Market Green Grocer in November, and gave a new platform to Black vendors as the city’s first Black supermarket owner.
“Right now, everything in here comes from a Black vendor,” he told CBS News.
His vendors include a grass-fed meat distributor, My Mark 61 Cattle Co., owned by Emory Davis; and Signature Sudz, owned by Robb and Jessica Tannan, who started making their own soaps and solvents after facing supply difficulties in their laundry business.
Thomas told CBS News he never foresaw this career path, but now he has a long-term vision.
“No, no way. You could never have told me I would have become a grocer,” he said. “I wanted a bigger club downtown, somewhere, something like that.”
Now his big plans are for his supermarket, he told CBS News.
“I want locations all over the world,” he said.