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A look at the numbers driving Texas' reopening strategy

Health experts say the trends to watch are the total number of cases, the positivity rate and hospitalization rate.

HOUSTON — On May 1, Texas businesses started welcoming people back. Almost a month has gone by, so health experts said we’re seeing the effects of the first phase of reopening Texas.

Bill McKeon is CEO of the Texas Medical Center, which is tracking COVID-19 trends for the greater Houston area.

“Our big take away is we are doing it properly,” he said.

He said that while the total number of COVID-19 cases is important, as more people get tested, the numbers will go up. Health experts say other important trends to watch are the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalization rate. Both statistics for the greater Houston area can be found on TMC.edu.

Right now, 4% to 6% of people are testing positive for the coronavirus locally, which is down from a 15% positivity rate at its peak. TMC’s count of available ICU beds shows Houston is well within its capacity.

We have tremendous capacity, so even if those numbers doubled, we would be able to handle it in our hospitals and our ICUs,” McKeon said.

However, that doesn’t mean the COVID-19 threat is over. Several health experts have warned about the potential for a surge in cases through the end of the year at least. Health officials are particularly concerned about a spike in the fall.

“It’s one thing to open up businesses and do that carefully and safely. It’s another if we all breathe a sigh of relief and rush too fast to go back to the way things were. I think we all need to recognize, part of the price we pay for opening things up is we have to go through inconveniences. Washing our hands, distancing, and wearing masks,” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of Houston Methodist.

To learn more about Houston area COVID-19 trends, click here.

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