A woman confined in the ICU of a San Antonio hospital, with her lungs damaged by COVID-19, has died after a long battle with the deadly virus in August. The woman was not vaccinated and was only in her mid-40s.
In August and September, the number of COVID-19 deaths reached over 9,000, and 40% of these deaths are under the age of 60. The increasing daily death number is an alarming turnaround that’s threatening to surpass last summer’s deadly surge in the average weekly death count.
The remarkable and unexpected rise in COVID-19 deaths in the state, which jumped tenfold over the previous two months of the summer, comes even though thousand of COVID-19 vaccine shots are being given to Texans daily, Texas Tribune reported.
14 Million People In Texas Remain Unvaccinated
According to experts, the surge is caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus that is targeting 14 million people in the state who remain unvaccinated. At least 96% of cases in Texas are of the Delta variant, according to state health officials.
The first death related to the COVID-19 virus was recorded on March 15, 2020, in Matagorda County. Since then, 62,033 people have succumbed to the virus across the state as of Sept. 23. Half of these deaths were recorded during the start of the vaccination efforts in Texas in mid-December. Only over 50% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
Texas’ High Rate of Unvaccinated People A Cause Of Concern
According to the health officials, Texas’s high rate of unvaccinated people caused the surge in hospitalization last month, which followed a rise in deaths. Preliminary data from the state health department states that of the 19,000 COVID-19 related deaths in Texas since February, 119 were fully vaccinated.
Although the Delta variant is known to be much more transmissible and some data already suggests that the variant makes people feel worse and much sicker, scientists are still researching if the variant is more deadly compared to other versions of the virus.
The available COVID-19 vaccines also prove that it is extremely effective in preventing serious disease, or deaths, according to scientists.
With the sudden rise in COVID-19 deaths, Dr. David Lakey, vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer at the University of Texas System, said that “we shouldn’t be surprised.”
“The main reason the fatality rates are as high as they are is there’s a lot of COVID in a lot of people that have underlying conditions and are not immunized,” Lakey, who is also a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force, said.
Maria Manzanilla, a nurse in the University Hospital who finished her nursing school just weeks before the pandemic started, said that after a year and a half as a front liner and as an ICU nurse, she observed several big differences between the Delta surge this summer and the previous rise in January and summer of 2020.
“This is the wave where they are a lot sicker,” she said. “This is the wave where we’re seeing them come in and they’re dying a lot faster. It’s pretty sad. And they are younger. The ones that are dying are a lot younger than they were last summer.”
Statistics recorded by the state prove her observations are accurate. Compared to the COVID-19 surge earlier on, a larger fraction of the deaths recorded in the recent surge is of people who are under the age of 60.
January Was ‘Deadliest’ Month Of Pandemic’
January was considered the deadliest month of the pandemic since vaccines were not widely available yet. At least 9,914 people in the state succumbed to the virus at the time, the state data showed. During that month, only 15% of the COVID-19 deaths were of Texans under the age of 60. In the previous month, the age group accounted for 38% of deaths.
The number shows that more Texans under the age of 60 have died in August, the highest recorded at any other time during the pandemic. People who died in their 40s skyrocketed to 679, almost doubling the previous peak for the same age group back in January 2021.
For Texans who are in their 30’s, recorded deaths in August were 33% higher compared to the winter surge. At least 124 people under the age of 30 died in August, a 77% higher than the last surge for the same age group, which was only 70 in July 2020.
Older Texans are still the most affected age group and record the most deaths even if their vaccination rate is at 98% in some areas. At least 79% of Texans over 65 are now fully vaccinated.
While deaths of Texans over 65 also increased in August, it was far lower compared to the recorded deaths during the surge in winter and last summer.