Coronavirus live updates: Houston still isn’t containing COVID-19, community spread data shows

The Houston Chronicle’s Live Updates blog documents the latest events in the coronavirus outbreak in the Houston area, the state of Texas and across the U.S. with a focus on health and economic impacts.

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Total coronavirus cases:

• 530,562 cases in Texas, including 9,748 deaths.

• 127,247 in the Houston region, including 2,259 deaths.

• More than 5.2 million in the U.S., including 167,253 deaths. Click here to see a U.S. map with state-by-state death tolls and the latest coronavirus case counts.

• More than 20.9 million in the world, with more than 760,213 deaths. More than 13 million people have recovered. You can view the worldwide totals here.

Resources on COVID-19 and Texas’ reopening: Use our interactive page to track the spread of cases through Harris County and the rest of Texas. For a detailed look at our state, check out the Chronicle’s Texas Coronavirus Map. To get regular updates on our coverage, sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.

Latest updates from today:

1:30 p.m.: The number of coronavirus patients crowding hospital wards in the Houston area is now in its sixth week of steady decline, a welcome reversal of the virus’ alarming surge in June and July, government reporter Mike Morris writes. But the subsiding wave has merely shifted civic leaders’ concerns because hospital headcounts, new cases and other metrics remain well above the levels before cases spiked in the region. The data shows that Houston still isn’t containing community spread of the virus.

11:30 a.m.: The Texans have a succession plan for coaches if they test positive for COVID-19 or need to quarantine, sports writer John McClain reports. For example, if Bill O’Brien falls ill or has to quarantine, Associate head coach Romeo Crennel would likely replace him on game day, and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby would likely handle O’Brien’s duties as general manager.

Texans getting stretched out

— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) August 14, 2020

11:00 a.m.: How do we politely decline to attend events during the pandemic? COVID-19 has made social events politically fraught. Every person has to decide what level of risk they’re comfortable with, but some may be more understanding than others of that decision. Houston How To writer Gwendolyn Wu asked three Texas etiquette experts to weigh in on what to say and do when you’re trying to decline a social invitation during the pandemic.

10:20 a.m.: Today is the first day the media is allowed to watch the Texans at training camp. How is the Houston Chronicle covering the Texans during the pandemic? How will the NFL set rosters during the pandemic? Does anyone even care about sports anymore? Sports writer John McClain has the answers in his mailbag.

10:00 a.m. Houston offshore drilling rig operator Seadrill plans to lay off another 168 employees, energy reporter Sergio Chapa writes. The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on the oil and natural gas industry since the world’s demand for transportation fuels — from jet fuel to gasoline — has collapsed. U.S. oil field service job losses from the pandemic are approaching 100,000 this year, according to the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association.

9:30 a.m. Texas’ positive test rate plummeted Thursday because of an influx of 124,403 newly reported viral tests, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of state data.

The test rate dropped from 24.50 percent to 16.08 percent. The rolling seven-day average of viral tests leaped from 28,304 on Wednesday to 40,898.

Meanwhile, the state reported 7,097 new cases for a total of 530,562. Another 264 deaths brings the statewide fatality count to 9,748.

The Houston region’s count is 127,247, up 1,614 from Wednesday. Harris County added 931 new cases Thursday, and is now at 89,425 cases total. There have been 2,259 deaths in the Houston region, up 50 from Wednesday.

Statewide, there were 6,879 patients hospitalized for lab-confirmed COVID-19, the 13th straight day with a decline. There are 54,919 total staffed hospital beds, and 11,179 beds available, including 1,188 ICU beds. There are 6,828 ventilators available.

– Julian Gill and Matt Dempsey

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