AUSTIN, Texas - A redeployment of rapid response COVID-19 test teams, like a National Guard unit that did testing in Taylor, will start Monday. Governor Greg Abbott spoke to FOX7 Thursday about the plan.
"We be reassigning resources into regions to help test the areas where there have been an increase in people doing the protesting so we can determine whether or not there has been an increase of COVID19 in those areas,” said Governor Abbott.
The strategy to address viral exposure from the protests will be similar to how the state responds to a recent outbreak from meatpacking plants in Amarillo.
The action, the governor admits, is reacting to an unknown. "What is knowable is we have these surge response teams that have gone into hot spots across the entire state of Texas, and done massive testing and through that, we've been able to contain the hot spots and reduce the number of people testing positive and normalize the community in regard to limiting the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Governor Abbott.
The Governor is trying to protect his decision to move to Phase III of his plan for reopening Texas businesses. His decision then was based, in part, on state reports that track and estimate active COVID-19.
FOX 7 has compiled a daily breakdown from every county in Texas. The massive collection of numbers shows that in early April cases quickly trended up; mainly in dense population centers.
The last week of May and into the first few days of June there has been no big spike. But in several counties in the Austin metro area, there were sharp fluctuations.
Cases in Hays County grew from 115 on May 27th, to 144 on the 30th. They dropped to 129 June 1st, only to bounce back up to 144 the next day.
During the same time period, Williamson County had a modest decline in cases after several days in the 200's.
The review by FOX 7 provides the first clear view of active case numbers in Travis County. The local dashboard does not provide that information. In Travis County, active cases have not hit a peak in recent days. The reported cases have gone from 1,812, trending up toward the 2,000 mark. Austin health officials Wednesday noted there have been 500 new cases in the past 8 days.
"Many of these cases have symptom onset that coincides with the reopening of the community and also Mother's Day and Memorial Day,” said Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette.
Some of the new infections have sent people to the hospitalized. But the head of Travis County health didn't indicate hospitals were about to be overrun. "Our hospital capacity is certainly in a good situation right now, so we can handle additional capacity,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for Austin Public Health.
With the concern that a spike in cases will come in late June, counting those who get sick is going to change. Austin and Travis County health officials on Thursday announced they will start using new criteria to calculate recovery rates.
A key part of the change is that the number of fatalities will no longer be factored into who is classified as in recovery. Doing this moves Austin more in line with standards set by the state.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.