Throughout the state, the number of new cases reported each day has grown from an average of about 1,081 during the week ending May 24 to about 1,527 in the past week. (Public health data varies day to day, so officials use a 7-day rolling average to better capture trends over time.)
The 14-day trend line shows new infections in Texas have risen about 71% in the past two weeks. Though confirmed infections have increased across the state, hot spots like state prisons and meatpacking plants, which have recently been the site of mass or targeted testing, are responsible for a portion of the increase, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Part of the state’s reported increase of new confirmed cases since late May is a result of mass testing in some prisons, which began on May 12. Since the test results started being reported by the prisons on May 26, the number of prisoners reported to be infected with the new coronavirus has skyrocketed — jumping from about 2,500 to 6,900 in two weeks.
State data shows that overall cases jumped by 19,000, or 34%, from May 25 to June 7, and nearly a quarter of that increase came from 10 counties with prisons and meatpacking plants.
But determining exactly how much of the statewide increase comes from recent prison testing is complicated because DSHS does not include all prison cases in the statewide total. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees prisons, reports COVID-19 cases directly to DSHS, but DSHS says the statewide tally is based on reports from Texas counties — and some counties don’t include prison cases in their statistics (DSHS spokespeople have repeatedly said they are working to ensure all counties include prison cases in their numbers).
On Friday, Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster told The Texas Tribune that the Texas attorney general’s office instructed the county — which has a prison that led to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases — not to include prisoners in their county infection numbers. Brazoria County officials also said Friday they would no longer report prison cases in their county reports, according to Community Impact.
The attorney general’s office said it could not comment on advice given to local officials because of attorney-client privilege. A DSHS spokesperson said the agency expected to have an update on its data reporting process this week “to ensure that TDCJ cases are consistently included on our dashboard.”