COVID-19 cases going down in city and county, despite backlog of more than 13K cases

Thursday, September 24, 2020
COVID-19 cases going down in Houston and Harris Co.
Despite the massive backlog of cases, things are looking up for both Houston and Harris County. There are, however, a list of concerns.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said due to a backlog of lab reports at the county's public health department, the county added 13,875 coronavirus cases on Monday, including five deaths to its total count.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, the county judge broke down the numbers, claiming out of the 13,875 cases, 13,110 cases were from more than 28 days ago.

The city of Houston Health Department told ABC13 there were 291 new COVID-19 cases, including 45 cases from the last 14 days.

The city's health authority Dr. David Persse said receiving results weeks later can be frustrating. However, Houston and Harris County are still seeing a decline in coronavirus cases.

"That number will bump up a little bit as we get more lab results, because there is a lag there, so that number will bump up a little bit," he said. "But even if we correct for the late information, the curve continues to be in a downward motion, so that's good news."

Meanwhile, Dr. Natasha Kathuria, an ER doctor and global health specialist, said she is seeing a similar downward trend in Texas hospitalizations.

"We have seen a sharp decline in cases throughout Texas," she said. "The surge has come down. We've done a lot better. Cases are much more manageable, but we are seeing things hold steady when we were hoping for them to continue to decline."

Kathuria encourages the community to not let their guard down and wants people to get a flu shot as soon as possible.

She's concerned about what could happen if a COVID-19 spike happens simultaneously as the flu season is in full swing.

READ ALSO: Health experts urge flu shots in effort to avoid 'twindemic'

"It is possible for someone to have both the flu and COVID-19," she explained. "We want everyone to be really cautious during the holidays. These tend to be weekends and moments when we see spikes. We saw it after Mother's Day, [and] Memorial Day. We saw a little after Fourth of July also, so now that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas [are] coming up, we need to be extra cautious."

Persse said the next few weeks will be telling and will show what the COVID-19 trend was post-Labor Day weekend.

He also encourages the community to continue wearing a mask, practice social distancing and avoid large crowded events, especially those indoors to help slow the spread.

Persse said the goal is to get the positivity rate of 6.2% down to 5% or lower.

"I kind of feel that over the next several weeks, we will know whether or not, as Houstonians, if we are on top of this virus, we're controlling the virus or if the virus is taking over our lives again," he said.

"We're in charge of that destiny, so now is not the time to take your foot off the brake. Now is not the time to get frustrated. Now is not the time to drop your guard. Now is the time to really put your foot on the brake, stop this virus so we can have as normal as possible Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas season."

The CDC also released suggestions for holiday events to help families determine what activities are considered high-risk or low-risk.

Are you looking forward to Halloween festivities? You might want to watch the video above on the CDC's latest recommendations. Some of the activities you have planned may be considered "high-risk" for contracting the virus.

The CDC discusses several factors, including the location of the event, the community spread, the amount of guests and the duration of the event. You can learn more in the video above.

For more information on CDC recommendations, click here.

The county said testing sites will return to regular operating hours following severe weather closures due to Tropical Depression Beta.

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