New COVID-19 cases plummet in Texas

Mike Stucka

Texas reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 70,397 new cases. That's down 40.6% from the previous week's toll of 118,517 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Texas ranked No. 9 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 632,914 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -22.9% from the week before. Across the country, 3 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Texas recently reported thousands of backlogged cases for Central Texas counties, which will skew week-to-week comparisons.

Across Texas, cases fell in 168 counties, with the best declines in Bexar, Tarrant and Tom Green counties.

The share of Texas test results that came back positive was 10.3% in the latest week, compared with 18.3% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 738,441 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 673,170. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Within Texas, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Scurry, Medina and Crosby ​counties​. Adding the most new cases overall were Harris County, with 8,586 cases; Tarrant County, with 7,129 cases; and Dallas County, with 7,071. Weekly case counts rose in 77 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Scurry, Cameron and Medina counties.

In Texas, 1,951 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 2,248 people were reported dead.

A total of 2,565,258 people in Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 41,273 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 27,640,282 people have tested positive and 485,336 people have died.

Heritage Middle School choir teacher Samantha Speakmon (center) gets her first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Licking County Health Department public health nurse Brittany Goldsberry (right) with her son Jacob nearby during a vaccination clinic for school district faculty and staff in Ohio on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Speakmon looked forward to the protection vaccination offered and not having to worry about the risks of coronavirus as much.