This COVID Hotspot State Is the Only One Getting Worse

While several hard-hit states have improved their coronavirus numbers, this state is backsliding.

There have been some positive signs for the U.S., even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the country hard. Many of the states that emerged as COVID epicenters over the past couple of months have seen significant improvement, with numbers trending downward for the first time in weeks. One state, however, is still heading in the wrong direction. While Arizona, Florida, and California continue to improve, the COVID situation in Texas is getting worse.

That was the assessment of Ashish Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), in an Aug. 8 Twitter thread. "Saturday numbers are in and I'm getting worried about Texas," he tweeted. "Across much of the South, the disease spread has turned down. Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, even Mississippi look somewhat better than they did a week ago. That's good. One state looks worse: Texas."

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

States like Arizona have earned praise for their successful COVID containment efforts, and it seemed, at one point, that Texas would follow the same trajectory. As Jha notes in his thread, "Texas had been doing better" following measures taken by Gov. Greg Abbott at the end of June. In July, testing increased but the percentage of positive tests fell, along with the number new cases.

Now, however, things "are not going well," Jha writes. He points to the positive test rate, which was 19.4 percent at the time of his thread. As of Aug. 10, Covid Act Now puts Texas' positive test rate at 19.3 percent, still the second-highest in the country. The worst positive test rate in the nation is Mississippi's, currently 21.1 percent.

dallas texas skyline

In an Aug. 9 appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, also called out Texas by name. "We've now had two waves of this epidemic, the New York wave and now the wave through the Sunbelt, which is receding, although Texas is showing signs of an uptick at least in the last week and that needs to be followed closely," he said.

So, what accounts for Texas' backslide? In his Twitter thread, Jha blames the numbers on a "huge drop in testing," as well as a significant rise in restaurant reservations, suggesting that more people are eating inside at restaurants, with numbers "now up again to June levels." Indoor dining remains a major risk for coronavirus transmission, and experts have said that hotspots need to shut down indoor dining in order to contain their outbreaks.

Jha concluded his thread by saying "the disease is still spreading too fast" in Texas. According to Covid Act Now, Texas now has an infection rate of 0.96, which is somewhat promising as it means COVID is spreading slowly. But that's not good enough for a state as overwhelmed with the virus as Texas. By contrast, other hotspot states have shown massive improvement in infection rates that now represent a decrease in active cases: 0.89 in California, 0.80 in Arizona, and 0.86 in Florida.

As of Aug. 10, there have been around 508,300 coronavirus cases in Texas, resulting in nearly 9,000 deaths, according to The New York Times. The recent success of other hotspot states shows that it is possible for Texas to reverse course—but if the state continues on the same path, those numbers will keep climbing. And for states with more controllable outbreaks, Only These 6 States Can Currently Contain COVID, New Research Shows.

Filed Under