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Texas is “flying blind” when schools reopen in the midst of the decline in COVID-19 tests

Texas may fly blind as it prepares to reopen schools as there has been a huge drop in COVID-19 tests even when the number of confirmed cases has risen above 500,000 and the death toll from the virus closes at 10,000.

Even more worrying is the positivity of the tests that have been administered in late Texas, suggesting that there may be many more cases out there that have not been detected.

“Yes, all school districts that do not test their own students fly blind,” said Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine. “But public schools do not have the resources to do that kind of testing in the current circumstances.”

While some smaller companies are working hard to develop $ 5 tests to diagnose COVID-19, right now, most school systems are “stuck with $ 100 PCR tests and they can’t afford to give them to every student,” Ho said.

How would Ho solve the test problem? “You might be able to throw a billion dollars at this problem, but that would be too good of an idea,” she said.

Last weekend, the Houston Astro Baseball Team and the Texas Department of Emergency Management opened a COVID-19 test center near Minute Maid Park that administered thousands of tests a day.

“So we had a gigantic uptick in testing, 30,000 or more,” Ho said.

But that is not enough in a city of 2.4 million that has already reported more than 50,000 cases, she said.

As a silver lining, major Texas cities like Austin have reported a decline in demand for COVID-19 testing, which opens the door for people who have no symptoms to test. Local health officials had stopped offering asymptomatic tests to people by the end of June when Austin and the rest of Texas experienced a dramatic peak in new cases that threatened to overwhelm the hospital system.

“We get the feeling from other jurisdictions that they are also seeing a decrease in those seeking tests,” the Austin-Travis County Health Authority interim said. Mark Escott to the local newspaper.

Why are people not tested? Escott said the frustration over waiting times counts into that equation and it’s not just a Texas issue.

“We are seeing what is being seen in many parts of the country right now and there is a significant reduction in testing that is being done,” Escott said. “This is not because tests are not available, it’s because smaller individuals sign up for testing.”

Texas administered an average of 36,255 coronavirus tests per day during the week ending Aug. 8, the Texas Tribune reported. It was a decrease of about 42 percent from two weeks before that, when the average number of daily tests was 62,516.

At the same time, there was a jump of 20 percent in positive tests in the week that ended on August 8. It was a six percent increase over the previous two weeks, when the degree of positivity was about 14 percent.

And on Saturday, more than half of the 14,000 COVID-19 tests were positive – a new state record.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a permanent ally of President Donald Trump, has been accused of sending conflicting messages to local school supervisors about returning students to classrooms.

On the one hand, Abbott has said he trusts them to decide when and how to return students to the classroom. But Abbott has also “moved to prevent local health officials from shutting down the classroom before the school year begins,” the Texas Tribune reported.

“Districts, I think, are very concerned about creating these rolling situations where people come back on campus and then get sick and then everyone has to leave again,” said Joy Baskin, director of legal services for the Texas Association of School Boards. a new podcast.

As for why Texas is seeing an increase in new cases, Abbott said Tuesday that it is because some Texans feel they can let their guard down “if they are only with family members.”

“And that does not turn out to be the case,” he said.

Nearly 5.2 million cases of Covid-19 had been reported in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, along with 165,680 deaths, according to the latest NBC News issues. The United States has accounted for about a quarter of the world’s more than 20 million cases and nearly 745,000 deaths.

  • Singer Trini Lopez, who got hits in the 1960s with her versions of songs like “Lemon Tree” and “If I Had a Hammer”, died on Tuesday from complications related to coronavirus. He was 83 and had struggled to survive for six weeks, said his songwriting partner Joe Chavira. Their latest song, “If By Now”, was performed for a coronavirus collection that is expected to be broadcast over the weekend on local television in Chavira’s hometown of Santa Barbara, he said. “He passed by and tried to tell people about COVID,” Chavira said.

  • A Florida sheriff has prevented his deputies from wearing masks in most work situations. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods insisted that there was no conclusive evidence that wearing masks slowed the spread of the virus, although the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with most of the medical facility, said otherwise. Even Trump has started wearing a mask during public appearances. But Woods, who is not a doctor, was stuck. “This is no longer a debate nor is it being discussed,” he wrote in a memo that appeared Tuesday, the same day that Florida reported 277 more coronavirus deaths.
  • A homeowner in New Jersey and an event promoter were busted after they allegedly hosted a house party on Sunday where the approximately 250 guests were charged $ 35 admission. It was the third major, paid admission bash that New Jersey police shut down in the past week. The owner, Jeffrey Davis Jr., and the promoter, Marheem Miller, were accused of violating the state’s ordinance against large social gatherings and local ordinances. Earlier this month, Governor Phil Murphy, whose condition could flatten the coronavirus curve but has seen an upward trend in new cases of late, tightened restrictions on the number of people who can gather indoors or at parties from 100 to 25.

  • New Jersey is not the only state where people have been exposed to the public by holding large house parties. In Nashville, two men were arrested for throwing a party on August 1 to promote an outfit called The Fashion House that drew hundreds of people who attended photo shoots and got tattoos. Christopher Eubank and Jeffrey Mathews were accused of violating health orders by hosting a meeting of more than 25 people, not demanding social distancing and not requiring facial coverage. Nashville Mayor John Cooper called the party “irresponsible” and local law enforcement released a “Stop Use Order” on the property to “illegally run a commercial business in a residential area.”

  • Man’s best friend is apparently not immune to COVID-19. A North Carolina dog that died after suffering from an “acute illness” earlier this month has tested positive for coronavirus. It is still not clear what exactly killed the dog. Only a handful of animals in the United States have been affected by the disease, according to the Department of Agriculture. Most of these infections occurred after the animal had contact with people who had COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What should a dog owner prevent COVID-19 from being sent to a pet? Avoid “petting, sniffing, kissing or licking or sharing food.”

Joe Murphy contributed.

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