From staff and wire reports
From staff and wire reports
While Gregg, Upshur and Titus counties reported increases in new COVID-19 cases Sunday, it was the third straight day of good news in Harrison County.
Gregg County Health Administrator A.J. Harris said Sunday that the county has six more positive cases, pushing the county’s total to 321.
Harris said 2,499 total tests have been administered in the county as of Sunday, with 2,049 results returning negative and 129 results pending. The county has recorded 10 deaths and 86 COVID-19 recoveries.
In Upshur County, Judge Todd Tefteller said five new positive cases were identified — four in the same household — to raise his county’s total to 37.
And Titus County Judge Brian Lee said his county has recorded 33 more coronavirus cases for a total of 616.
He also said 105 people were screened Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during mobile testing at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center, and those results are expected this week. He added his county has seen 115 COVID-19 recoveries.
Meanwhile, Harrison County hasn’t reported a new COVID-19 case since Thursday when it recorded two, which raised its total to 258.
Statewide, 1,425 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Sunday, bringing the total to 74,978. That’s 10,691 more than a week go.
An estimated 49,758 Texans who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered.
Eleven more COVID-19 deaths were reported Sunday, raising the statewide total to 1,830.
Also Sunday, black lawmakers are accusing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and state health officials of falling short in addressing their pleas for better racial data and efforts to decrease COVD-19’s deadly toll on black Americans.
The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that since the first positive coronavirus case in Texas in March, black legislators have asked for a task force, a more accurate count of the disease’s impact on black and brown Texans and increased testing in highly affected black and brown neighborhoods.
Texas has struggled to track racial health disparities. Many of the more than 70,000 confirmed cases and 1,700 deaths on the state’s case dashboard do not have information on race and ethnicity.
As of Friday, the state had still not received the race or ethnicity of 79% of the cases reported to the state and 63% of the reported deaths.
“We have been asking — myself, my colleagues and people of color — have been asking the government with no answers,” state Sen. Borris Miles, a Houston Democrat, told the newspaper. “It’s like we don’t exist.”
Miles said he was able to get state-provided COVID-19 testing in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods considered hot spots in his district in mid-May. But that was more than two months after Abbott declared a state of disaster.
Abbott spokesman John Wittman told the newspaper that the he state will significantly ramp up testing in black and Hispanic neighborhoods beginning today. He did not provide additional details. In April, Abbott said he was working with lawmakers to better respond to the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on black Texans.
Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services, said local health authorities conduct their own case and death investigations, which they then turn over to the state. Anton said those investigations “take time to complete depending upon the circumstances” and some do not include race and ethnicity data because people choose not to answer the question.
Anton said the state had enough data to identify trends. For example, blacks make up 16% of the cases in Texas even though they’re only 12% of the population. But with so much of that data completed as “unknown,” the actual number of black cases could be much higher than the state’s.
Democrats are not the only ones who have called for action. Eight Republicans, including some of the most conservative in the House, joined calls by state Rep. Shawn Thierry for a task force to examine racial disparities. Rep. James White, the only black Republican in the Legislature, said collecting racial data is necessary to respond to the pandemic.
“This is science, this isn’t politics. Let’s get the information,” he said. “I’m intrigued that this information isn’t there. Because to me, it would be so integral to fighting the COVID-19 attack.”