State Senator Lois Kolkhorst says the outlook of COVID-19 in Texas and in the nation is trending in the right direction.

Senator Lois Kolkhorst
(courtesy Office of Lois Kolkhorst)

Of the over 42,000 positive cases in Texas, the number of active cases is estimated at over 17,000, with an estimated 23,000 patients that have recovered from the virus.  Kolkhorst said this is “a very positive trend”, adding that more testing is becoming readily available statewide through either private labs, local governments, or the Texas State Guard.

Kolkhorst addressed reports that Texas has had over 1,000 new cases for five straight days, saying that many of those cases have come from “hotspots” and not from spread in the general community.  She specifically mentioned Tarrant County, which added over 400 new cases in a day because of a hotspot found in a federal prison.  She also reiterated the wider availability of testing, which she said is “a key to managing COVID-19” as the state continues to reopen.

According to Kolkhorst, over 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Texas are in the age group over 80 years old, while nearly 75 percent of deaths are those 65 and older.  Kolkhorst said the trends for the most vulnerable must be studied closely, and that is where resources need to be concentrated.

Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to test 100 percent of the residents and staff in Texas nursing homes.  Kolkhorst said this is something her office has been working to obtain for several weeks now, and is “a very positive step”.

In late April, at Kolkhorst’s request, the state launched a Mobile Integrated Healthcare Unit to the Brenham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which currently accounts for 107 of the 179 positive cases in Washington County.  She also asked the DSHS to deploy a contact trace team to Brenham to ensure that community spread is not occurring.

Kolkhorst also pointed to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which stated 26 states have reported that a third of coronavirus deaths have occurred in a long-term care facility.  An additional 14 states have reported more than half of all deaths were in a long-term care setting.  She noted that not all states are reporting these numbers, so a complete national count is not yet available.  She said Texas does appear to be following the national trend of “a substantial number of coronavirus deaths in congregate care”, and that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) are working to verify and release data specific to Texas soon.

Kolkhorst said those looking to find testing opportunities near them can visit the site devised by TDEM.

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