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August 12 COVID-19 case count: Texas surpasses 9,000 virus deaths, now fourth-most in country

Texas is now fourth in the country for coronavirus deaths, behind New York, New Jersey and California.

HOUSTON — The Texas Department of State Health Services announced 6,200 new COVID-19 cases and 324 newly reported deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state total of deaths to 9,034.

Texas' new total of deaths puts it fourth in the country for most coronavirus deaths behind New York (23,602), New Jersey (15,890), and California (10,468).

The 6,200 new cases are lower than last week's average: From Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, the state averaged 6,971 new cases a day

The state's positivity rate now sits at 23.92 percent, but that number needs context.

While new cases are showing a downward trend, fewer tests are being performed.

From Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, Texas averaged about 40,457 tests a day. The week prior, July 28 to Aug. 3, the state averaged about 61,014 tests a day.

While tests are decreasing at a significant rate, positive cases are not decreasing at the same speed, causing the positivity rate to go up faster.

In Houston, public health officials are seeing a similar issue: despite opening new testing sites, adding evening hours, and securing quicker turnaround times for test results, fewer people are getting tested.

   

“In a perfect world, with a magic wand, I would have everybody in the city of Houston tested once a week. If we could do that – it’s totally impossible I understand – but if we could do that we would be able to identity everyone who is infected, get their contact tracing done, and stop this virus within two weeks’ time.”

The World Health Organization recommends positivity rates of 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days before re-opening schools and the economy.

Public health experts say the only way we will know what our true positivity rate is, is if more people get tested, even if they do not feel sick.

“By doing that, you break the chain of transmission," Dr. David Persse, the Houston Health Authority, said. “Each and everyone of the people infected and hospitalized, that was a preventable infection.”

In Houston, the Health Department reported 431 new cases and 12 newly reported deaths, bringing the city's totals to 55,940 cases and 585 deaths.

Wednesday's totals are lower than last week's average of 614 new cases a day from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10.

In Harris County outside the city of Houston, there were 558 new cases and 14 newly reported deaths announced Wednesday. The 14 newly reported deaths are a single-day high for the county.

The county reported an average of 593 cases a day from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10. Harris County now totals 32,554 cases and 366 deaths.