Weekly coronavirus data released by the state yesterday shows a downtick in positive staff cases at public schools and a slight uptick among students, for a difference of about 200 cases each. Other statewide metrics, released daily, show a return to pre-peak levels.
Out of 1,101,065 students on campus during the first week of school statewide, schools have reported 3,445 positive cases. Among the pool of 800,000 school staff personnel, 2,850 cases have been counted.
“Cases in this report are defined as any staff member or student who participates in any on-campus activity that is test-confirmed COVID-19 of which a public school is notified,” the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website reads.
As of yet, no districts have reported mass infections.
Hospitalizations are also returning to former levels. After reaching a peak in mid to late July of over 10,000, coronavirus hospitalizations have declined steadily throughout August and September.
Since early September, the weekly average of daily hospitalizations has remained below 4,000, reaching a low of 3,159 on Thursday that has not been seen since June.
As of yesterday, around 12,000 beds and over 7,000 ventilators are available.
Like hospitalizations, the number of new daily coronavirus cases and the testing positivity rate both reached a high in July and have been declining steadily since.
DSHS encountered some problems with the coronavirus data in August with a backlog of cases that led to an unusual spike and plummet in the reported positivity rate.
On September 14, though, DSHS began including in their data a “specimen collection date” positivity rate that they say “uses the date the person was tested for positive tests and total tests.”
As when the state reported coronavirus fatality trends based on the dates that deaths were reported instead of the actual dates of deaths — something they began doing differently in July — the new method of reporting the positivity rate based on the dates of tests provides more accurate trend lines.
Under the new data, the positivity rate reached a high on July 7 with 20.73 percent, which has steadily declined with no abrupt spikes to a reported 6.35 percent as of September 23, as low as it was in late May and early June.
DSHS does note, “The positivity rate for a specific date will change as more test results are received for the seven days included in that date’s calculation.”
Issues like the backlog spike have led some counties to mistrust the DSHS dashboard. Collin County warned its residents of inaccuracies in DSHS data on their dashboard, and Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher issued a similar warning verbally at a commissioners court meeting earlier this week after a presentation by Emergency Management Coordinator Patrick Pinder revealed disparities between DSHS and locally collected data.
As of September 23, the state reports a total of 723,919 confirmed cases and 15,267 fatalities.
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