Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas ranks high in coronavirus recoveries, but many large states don’t report that figure

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Mi Madre's Restaurant in Austin opened its patio after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted some restrictions on restaurants in May. Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

In explaining his cautious optimism about Texas’ response to the novel coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott has often honed in on one cheery-sounding figure: The number of Texans he says have recovered from the virus, which, he boasts, tops that of almost every other state.

The Texas figure, which currently stands at 28,371, is not an actual tally of the patients no longer experiencing any symptoms, but instead an estimate based on a string of assumptions about the virus’ longevity. And it’s difficult to say where Texas really ranks in recoveries, in part because many states, including most of the country’s most populous — California, Florida and Pennsylvania — do not report the number at all. Politifact Texas recently rated Abbott’s claim about Texas’ high ranking “half-true.”

Some states don’t report how many patients have recovered because it simply isn’t feasible to track everyone who tested positive for the virus, and there are too many conflicting methods for estimating it.

And experts say recovery estimates mean little: There is no cure for the new coronavirus, so the number of recoveries best reflects how many people have fallen ill from the virus in a given state — the more infections, the more recoveries.

At a press conference on Monday, Abbott made a slightly different claim, reporting that “with the help of our hospitals, our recovery rate is one of the best in the country.” Politifact found earlier this month that Texas ranked 16th for recovery rate among states that are reporting recoveries. A spokesman for the governor did not return a request for comment about his source for the claim.