DALLAS — Editor's Note: The above video explains how the state reports COVID-19 deaths.
The state of Texas has recorded a grim milestone: more than 50,000 people have died from COVID-19 since pandemic tracking began last year, official data shows.
That's equivalent to the entire population of Galveston, gone.
California is the only other state in the nation that has had a comparable death toll, according to data from the CDC. Deaths there have surpassed 61,000 people.
Florida has the third-highest death toll — but is far behind both Texas and California — at more than 36,000 lives lost.
Per capita, Texas has fared better compared against other U.S. states, but has still seen about 172 people die for every 100,000 people there are in the state, according to CDC data. In New Jersey, the state with the highest per-capita death toll, that figure is 292 per 100,000.
While vaccines have become widely available across Texas to those 12 and older, Texas has still averaged around 40 COVID-19 deaths per day over the last week.
The state is passing the somber mark at the same time that Gov. Greg Abbott announced a ban on any mask mandates for most government entities, including schools, as well as the end of federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
Across the U.S., more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in the past seven days alone, per the CDC. More than 584,000 Americans have died, and the country has seen nearly 33 million cases since the pandemic began.
Texas has recorded 2,504,484 cases thus far, according to state data. Around 2,100 people remain hospitalized.
The news comes at the same time Dallas County reported its first cases of the COVID variant first detected in India.
Scientists with UT Southwestern Medical Center found two cases of the variant using "next-generation sequencing technologies along with targeted PCR testing," a news release said.
Officials with Dallas County said the two people who tested positive for the variant had no recent travel history.
Those who are currently vaccinated against COVID-19 should remain protected against the variant first detected in India as well, UT Southwestern officials said.
And, medical experts pointed out, the higher the vaccination rate, the lower transmission occurs, giving variants less opportunity to spread and form.
Plus, vaccines can help protect those who do get infected from getting seriously ill or dying, medical experts explained, "emphasizing the importance of continued efforts to encourage vaccination.”
More than 12 million have received at least one dose in the state, and more than 9.5 million people have been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to state data. That's about 50% of the state's population, age 12 and up, that has received at least one dose.
Vaccines have become widely available across Texas at most major pharmacies as well as hub sites throughout the state. For more information about how to get vaccinated at a hub site, click here.
WFAA Reporter William Joy contributed to this story.