Texas’ coronavirus positivity rate exceeds “warning flag” level Abbott set as he let businesses reopen

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The seven-day average positivity rate surpassed 10%, exceeding another one of the governor's key metrics. Allie Goulding/The Texas Tribune

Seven weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott began allowing businesses to reopen, Texas exceeded another one of the his key metrics Wednesday when the seven-day average positivity rate passed 10%, a level that Abbott previously called a “warning flag.”

The positivity rate is the ratio of positive cases to the number of tests conducted. The seven-day average has returned to 10.42%, a level the state hasn’t seen since mid-April, when Texas was under a stay-at-home order. In other words, for the past week, an average of about 1 out of 10 people tested for the coronavirus were positive.

It’s the latest in a streak of rapidly increasing indicators that have worried public health experts and local officials in Texas.

“The outlook is not good,” said Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. “We are in a super dire situation.”

For 13 days in a row, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached record highs, soaring to 4,389 on Wednesday and more than doubling since the beginning of June. The daily count of new COVID-19 cases passed the 5,000 mark Tuesday and reached 5,551 on Wednesday — a 94% jump since June 1.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Abbott told an Amarillo television station Wednesday that “there is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas.”