Texas surpassed 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as the state's infection rate jumped to its highest point during the pandemic.
The state’s infection rate has been steadily increasing even though hospitalizations in Texas have dropped more than 30 percent from a high point last month. The seven-day average of positive cases increased to 24 percent to reach Texas’s highest infection rate during the coronavirus crisis, The Associated Press reported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) attributed the increase in the rate of positive tests to family and neighborhood gatherings, which come as the state and the country are attempting to reopen schools shortly.
“There’s a reason why this is happening, I believe, and that is some people feel if they’re just with family members” they don’t have to be as careful, Abbott said Tuesday, according to the AP. “And that turns out not to be the case.”
At the same time, the Lone Star state’s daily testing count dropped to less than 30,000 on Tuesday. In mid-to-late July, more than 60,000 tests were conducted per day, which Abbott said occurred because of “surge testing,” according to the AP.
The state’s testing statistics follow national trends, which experts say could have to do with the delays in commercial lab testing that prompted doctors to be advised to test only the highest-risk patients. Other government officials said the lack of testing is because of less demand as people became annoyed with long wait times for the tests and their results.
Texas also recorded more than 1,350 new fatalities in the past week, with a seven-day average of 194 per day, according to data from The New York Times.
On Sunday, the U.S. marked a grim milestone of recording 5 million COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.