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Public Health Group Warns Texas Among States With Most Alarming COVID-19 Numbers 

click to enlarge Even though COVID-19 cases are rising in Texas, the state is testing just half the number of people daily that it should, according to the group COVID Exit Strategy. - COURTESY PHOTO / CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy Photo / City of San Antonio
  • Even though COVID-19 cases are rising in Texas, the state is testing just half the number of people daily that it should, according to the group COVID Exit Strategy.
A nonpartisan group of public health experts is warning that Texas is one of eight states whose COVID-19 infection and testing data suggests they're poised for a significant infection rebound.

The Lone Star State posted a 53% increase in cases over the past 14 days, according to analysis by the group COVID Exit Strategy. At the same time, the state is hitting just half of the organization's recommended minimum testing goal of 500,000 people per day. Only two states, Washington and Hawaii, had worse testing records.

The other states on COVID Exit Strategy's list are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Texas and most of those states have been at the vanguard of reopening businesses amid the pandemic.

The group's cautionary note sounds as Texas this week reported three record days of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and new daily high in COVID-19 cases

It also comes as Gov. Greg Abbott's reopening plan is poised to permit restaurants on Friday to boost their occupancy to 75% of capacity. Most businesses in the state are already cleared to run at 50%.

COVID Exit Strategy officials say they haven't collected enough data to pinpoint exactly how the states' individual reopening strategies play into their infection data.

However, one of its collaborators, Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, says states that undertake broad reopenings rather than permitting a few industries at a time could have a tougher time identifying and containing the spread.

Abbott's office has blamed recent case increases on outbreaks tied to prisons and meat packing plants, while others have tried to link them to Memorial Day revelers or recent street protests. However, those debates miss an important point, according to one infectious disease expert.

“The thing about all of these places is not that these increases are definitely tied to reopening or partying over Memorial Day weekend, though they might be, but that in the face of increasing numbers of case counts, the continued relaxation will only provide more opportunity for community transmission,” Harvard University epidemiologist William Hanage told the news site Vox. “The virus is getting highways along which to transmit.”

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