HOUSTON (AP) - More than 3,000 nursing home residents in Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data released by the state on Friday.
The 3,000 positive tests represent about 4% of the estimated number of Texans living in nursing homes, the Houston Chronicle reported. By comparison, about 0.15% of Texas residents have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday ordered coronavirus testing for all Texas nursing home residents and staff after the White House urged governors to do so as deaths mount nationwide.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
More than 26,000 residents and staff have died from outbreaks of the virus at the nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to an AP tally based on state health departments and media reports. That is about a third of all 76,000 deaths in the U.S. that have been attributed to the virus.
While nursing home residents in Texas make up around 6% of the state’s positive cases, they account for about 38% of the state’s deaths related to COVID-19, the newspaper reported.
The numbers for nursing homes that the state has released are broken down by region, but advocates and family members have been calling for more detailed information that shows cases by specific facility or at least by county.
“We’d like to see more transparency where the cases are,” said Amanda Fredriksen, associate state director for advocacy and outreach at AARP Texas. “And in seeing more testing going forward, especially as the state continues to open up.”
The department of state health services reported Saturday that Texas has 46,999 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and at least 1,305 deaths linked to it. The true numbers are likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
On Friday, officials in Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle reported an increase of 734 cases of COVID-19 in Potter and Randall counties, the two counties that encompass the city. Officials reported 58 new cases in the Amarillo area on Saturday.
Amarillo officials and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have said the spike was due to increased testing in the area, particularly in a local meatpacking plant that has seen a cluster of infections. Abbott's office had sent a surge response team to the Amarillo area, including members of the Texas National Guard.
“By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo," Abbott said in a statement Saturday.
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