AUSTIN, Texas — Texas has surpassed California in recording the highest number of positive coronavirus tests in the U.S. so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As the coronavirus pandemic surges across the nation, the data from Sunday — the most recent available — says that there have been 937,317 cases in Texas, the nation’s second-largest state.
California, the most populous state, has had 936,198 cases, followed by Florida with 807,412.
The true number of cases is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
In cases per 100,000 population, Texas ranks 19th.
A summer surge of cases overwhelmed hospitals in Houston and along the hard-hit border with Mexico. But in the fall the case numbers dipped, and Gov. Greg Abbott began relaxing some coronavirus restrictions, allowing restaurants and gyms to let more people inside. He also let county leaders decide if they wanted to reopen bars at 50% capacity.
But cases and hospitalizations are once again on the rise.
The Johns Hopkins data shows that Texas’ seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate has risen over the last two weeks from 7.12% to 10.72%, while the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose from about 4,470 new cases per day to about 6,070.
Texas health officials have reported more than 18,000 deaths so far from COVID-19.
In recent weeks new hot spots have emerged in places including the rural upper Midwest and along the U.S.-Mexico border El Paso, where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent additional medical personnel and equipment.
Last Thursday, El Paso County officials ordered a two-week shutdown of nonessential activities after the area’s medical resources were overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego says they’re struggling to find space for the increasing number of people dying and are setting up a fourth mobile morgue unit at the medical examiner’s office.
Samaniego said Monday that the county had a backlog of more than 90 deaths that needed to be investigated.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.