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VERIFY: Yes, Gov. Abbott's claim that 'Texas COVID trends are improving' is true, but it needs some context

Gov. Greg Abbott made the claim on social media on August 30.

The governor took to social media touting what he refers to as an improvement in COVID-19 trends across Texas. He claims the positivity rates have been the lowest in over a month and that they are on the decline. A viewer asked us to Verify if the governor’s post is true.

The post from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Facebook page on Aug. 30 reads,

“Today Texas posted the lowest 7-day Covid positivity rate in more than a month. It has steadily declined for 20 days. Lower positivity rates often lead to a lower number of Covid positive cases. And fewer cases lead to reduced hospitalizations. Tx Covid trends are improving.”

Carol wrote the Verify team, “I find it hard to believe. Can you verify?”

Our source for this is the Texas Department of State Health Services, which collects and publishes state COVID-19 data on its online dashboard every day.

At the beginning of August, the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 17.36 percent. That rate climbed slightly in the days that followed to 18.72 percent on Aug. 9. The positivity rate began to decline from that day through Aug. 30 (14.01 percent).

So, that part of the governor’s claim is true. But it needs some context. The state updates old positivity numbers when it gets new information and has since changed the positivity rate for Aug. 30, from 14.01 percent to 14.88 percent. It is still a decline. But for the last two days, the numbers have gone up slightly.   

Also, the governor is referring to positive results from PCR tests, not rapid tests.

As for Gov. Abbott’s claim that a lower positivity rate leads to less cases and reduced hospitalizations, that is not reflected in the numbers.

According to the state’s online dashboard, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state has climbed over the last 20 days, from 10,041 on the Aug. 9 to 13,878 on Aug. 30.

DSHS sent the Verify team the following statement, “The data on our dashboard is preliminary and subject to change as more data are received. The positivity rate has been trending down over the last few weeks, and it is a reliable indicator of the proportion of people testing positive for Covid.”

Cheryl Mercedes on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram