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‘Never reported these types of numbers’: Turner reports highest number of COVID-19 cases in Houston

HOUSTON – New coronavirus cases in Houston have seen unprecedented highs in the past few days, with Mayor Sylvester Turner announcing Monday that he had more than 1,700 cases to report.

“The disappointment for me is that all of the good work that we did collectively in March and April and in May with all of the good work that we did — shutting down, closing conferences and conventions — with all of that good work we are all engaged in opening and activities that are wiping away the success that we collectively achieved,” Turner said.

“I never reported these types of numbers,” Turner said. “We are moving very fast and we are moving very fast in the wrong direction.”

To prevent a big set back, he said the best thing people can do is put on a mask and follow in lines with the order. He warned those who are going to bars and clubs with no masks need to understand that just because you don’t have symptoms, does not mean you aren’t carrying the virus.

Houston Health Authority, Dr. David Persse explained that since May 31, there had been a 2.8 fold increase in the number of patients that were hospitalized.

Houston fire and police departments were also seeing a spike in cases among first responders which was resulting in short staffing in both agencies, HFD Chief Sam Peña said at the press conference.

Gov. Greg Abbott also held a press conference today and said Texas was seeing an “unacceptable” spread of coronavirus in the state and pleaded with Texans to wear masks and maintain social distancing and hygiene standards.

“We need to have all Texans follow the safe protocols that we’ve all come to learn,” Abbott said.

Hospitalizations in Houston area
Hospitalizations in Houston area (KPRC)

Case discrepancy explained

While the daily case announcements in the last few days have been disturbingly high, there’s a reason for it.

On Friday, Turner announced 972 case and on Saturday the city of Houston had more than 800 cases.

However, in all these cases, officials have been quick to note that while there is an upswing in coronavirus cases in the Houston area, the high numbers reported each day are actually a result of a massive delay in numbers being reported to the city and county health departments.

Friday, Turner said more than 80% of the cases he’d announced were from tests that were conducted between June 12 and June 18. On Monday, he made a similar statement, saying about 86% of the 1,789 cases he announced spanned back to the week of June 9 through June 17.

“Today’s positive numbers are cumulative for the two days and because the health department again did not report on Sunday,” Turner said. “This count includes a large data feed from the department of state and human services. 86% of these tests were conducted in the month of June, with testing days of June 9-17.”

Public health officials are updating daily case totals on the Harris County and Houston coronavirus dashboard but due to the massive backlogs, it may be a couple of weeks before the case total for a specific day may be known.

As a result, while 1,789 cases were announced Monday, the Harris County and Houston dashboard lists the case total for Monday at 43 cases. This number will likely be updated and chance as health officials receive backlogged information.

Houston and Harris County case totals from public health officials on June 22, 2020.
Houston and Harris County case totals from public health officials on June 22, 2020. (Harris County)

WATCH: Mayor Turner’s full Monday press conference below

LIVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner to address rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations in Houston

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, June 22, 2020

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