COVID-19 positivity test rate remains high

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

A week into August the daily new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas and Williamson County are down from July numbers, but health officials are keeping a watchful eye on the positivity rate.

Across Texas, there have been just over 56,000 new cases since Aug. 1, down about 10,000 cases per week from July numbers. But the rate of positive tests remains high, currently at 13.88 percent for the state, which is nearly three times the number the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies as a hotspot for the virus.

The positivity rate in the county is even higher than the state average, at 17.58 percent.

“While there are encouraging signs that community-based viral transmission may be starting to plateau or even decline, COVID-19 is still rampant across Central Texas, including here in Williamson County. Our current rate of new cases is averaging around 12 per 100,000 people, per day – nearly 17 times higher than the CDC’s threshold for ‘low incidence,’” the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) said in a release last week.

July was an especially challenging month across the state, accounting for 62 percent of all confirmed cases to date and 63 percent of all fatalities in Texas so far. There were 4,145 fatalities in July, with 7,261 total through Aug. 4. Confirmed cases in the month totaled 290,960 out of a total 451,181 since March.

With students returning to school soon, the WCCHD warns that residents should be extra vigilant when it comes to precautionary measures.

“At current levels of viral activity in our communities, increased social contact through on-campus classes and extracurricular activities still has the potential to result in more infections and additional spread of the coronavirus, including the possibility of hospitalizations and deaths amongst those in close contact. While prevalence of acute illness tends to be higher in other age groups, schoolchildren comprise around 8 percent of all known cases, and may transmit the virus to others, including at-risk teachers, staff, friends, and family,” the statement said.

The total number of cases in Williamson County has surpassed 5,900 and while local numbers for Liberty Hill have not been made available by the City, the County shows the 78642 zip code as having a total between 50 and 200 confirmed cases. That number does not account for recovered or active cases.

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