Texas cases of COVID-19 increasing by thousands since reopening

There are now 45,198 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. That is an increase of 1,347 cases from Thursday to Friday. The new numbers have not yet been recorded for Saturday.

Last Friday, the daily case increase was 1,219.

While the cases are still well below New York, the state with the most confirmed cases at more than 345,000, the steady increase shows that the curve has not yet flattened in Texas.

The state also experienced its highest and second-highest daily death toll just a day apart. On Thursday, 58 deaths were recorded in 24 hours and Friday that number dropped only slightly to 56, according to the health department. The total number of fatalities is at 1,272.

Last Friday, the daily death toll was 31.

Hospitalizations rates have appeared to flatten, but that data is reported on a two-week lag. Currently there are 1,716 people in a Texas hospital, according to the health department.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s communications director John Wittman told ABC News that the amount of testing has doubled since reopening, contributing to the rise in cases.

“Since [COVID-19 testing] started, we did 330,000 tests in March and April. Since May 1, we have done over 330,000 — so in 16 days we have doubled our testing from the previous entire two months,” Wittman said.

“The governor has been clear that as the state of Texas conducts more tests, we will see the raw number of cases rise,” Wittman said. “However, the [rolling seven-day] average positivity rate has steadily declined from our high April 13 [of a bit more than 13%] to around 5% today. Our hospitalizations remain steady, and Texas has one of the lowest death rates per capita in the nation.”

Texas began reopening after its stay-at-home order was lifted on April 30.

Restaurants are open for in-person dining at 25% capacity. Movie theaters and malls are also open at 25% capacity.

Retail stores, libraries and museums are fully open. Come Monday, gyms will reopen too.

The two most populous counties — Harris and Dallas — have recorded the most cases. There are 8,817 confirmed cases in Harris County and 6,837 confirmed cases in Dallas County.

The state has tested nearly 646,000 people out of a population of 29 million. Cases are most likely higher because of how few people have been tested.

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