The Texas Tribune is using data from the Texas Department of State Health Services to track how many people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Texas each day. The state data comes from local health officials, and it may not represent all cases of the disease given limited testing. Here's what we know about the daily numbers.
Gov. Greg Abbott is looking at two specific metrics to justify his decision to restart the Texas economy — the positive test rate and hospitalization levels. Here’s how the numbers changed in the first to weeks of May when Texas began reopening.
Where are most of the cases in Texas?
On March 4, DSHS reported Texas’ first positive case of the coronavirus, in Fort Bend County. The patient had recently traveled abroad. A month later on April 4, there were 6,110 cases in 151 counties. As of May 23, there are 54,509 cases in 227 counties. The Tribune is measuring both the number of cases in each county and the rate of cases per 1,000 residents.
|County||Number of cases||Cases per 1,000 people||Deaths|
How many people are in the hospital?
On April 6, the state started reporting the number of patients with positive tests who are hospitalized. It was 1,153 that day and 1,688 on May 23. This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test. As of mid-April, concerns that Texas hospitals would be unable to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients seem to have been assuaged.
As he makes decisions about how quickly to restart the Texas economy, Abbott says he is watching the number of hospitalizations and the hospitalization rate — the proportion of infected Texans who require hospitalization.
Daily hospitalizations from coronavirus
How many people have died?
The first death linked to the coronavirus in Texas occurred March 16 in Matagorda County. As of May 23, 1,506 people who tested positive for the virus have died.
New deaths from coronavirus each day
How have the number of cases increased each day?
On March 24, the Texas Department of State Health Services changed its reporting system to track case counts directly from counties instead of relying on official case forms, which came in later and caused the state’s official count to lag behind other tallies. Increases in testing also led to more detected cases. Health experts say that even gradual steps to reopen businesses will increase the number of people who become sick from the virus. In May, a large one-day spike was reported after testing at meatpacking plants in Amarillo region.
Cumulative cases of coronavirus in Texas
New cases of coronavirus each day
Daily infection rate
How many people have been tested?
As of May 23, Texas has administered 870,935 tests for the coronavirus since March. Expert opinions differ on how much larger that figure needs to be. We do not know the number of Texans who have gotten a test because some people are tested more than once. The state’s tally also does not include pending tests.
Coronavirus test results reported to the state each day
- Viral tests
- Antibody tests
The DSHS data also might not include all of the tests that have been run in Texas. The state has said it is not getting test data from every private lab, and as of mid-May only 3% of tests were coming from public labs. Even as demand for testing has increased, both public and private labs continue to prioritize Texans who meet certain criteria, but every private lab sets its own criteria.
On May 21, DSHS disclosed for the first time that as of a day earlier, it had counted 49,313 antibody tests as part of its "Total Tests" tally. That represents 6.4% of the 770,241 total tests that the state had reported on May 20. Health experts have warned against counting antibody and standard viral tests together because they are distinctly different tests. Antibody tests detect whether someone was previously infected, while standard viral tests determine whether someone currently has the virus.
Read more Tribune coronavirus coverage:
- As Texas reopens, coronavirus cases are increasing while testing misses benchmarks
- Texas reports record coronavirus deaths the day before stores open. But Gov. Greg Abbott sees hope in other metrics.
- Health experts give Abbott's plan to reopen Texas mixed reviews, warn state should revive stay-at-home order if surge emerges
- Before Texas can safely reopen its economy, health experts say these four things must happen
- More than 13% of Texas nursing homes have at least one resident with coronavirus, officials say
- Impacts of coronavirus on Texans of color clouded by incomplete data
- Coronavirus in Texas cities: See how social distancing could reduce stress on hospitals
How is this impacting Texans of color?
While early reports from other parts of the country indicate black Americans are disproportionately likely to get sick or die from the new coronavirus, it’s virtually impossible to determine if that grim reality is playing out in Texas because information released by state health officials is notably incomplete.
The limited data provided to the Tribune offers a murky glimpse of the virus' impact on Texas communities of color. Race and ethnicity are reported as unknown for a significant portion of the completed case reports. (Agency officials said some people prefer not to provide the information.)
Although state leaders acknowledge the demographic data is lacking, they have indicated the state won't be taking steps to mandate reporting to fill in the gaps.
What else should I know about this data?
These numbers come from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which updates statewide case counts at 3 p.m. each day. The data is from the same morning, and it may lag behind other local news reports.
From March 13 through March 24, the Tribune added cases from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where hundreds of American evacuees from China and cruise ships were quarantined. Those case counts came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Carla Astudillo, Mandi Cai, Darla Cameron, Chris Essig, Anna Novak, Emily Albracht and Alexa Ura contributed to this report.