Coronavirus live updates: Texas sees positive COVID test rate reach record high

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:

• 508,284 cases in Texas, including 8,926 deaths.

• 122,655 in the Houston region, including 2,086 deaths.

• More than 5 million in the U.S., including 163,473 deaths. Click here to see a U.S. map with state-by-state death tolls and the latest coronavirus case counts.

• More than 20.1 million in the world, with more than 737,022 deaths. More than 12.3 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: 

9:17 a.m.: Aside from the oil sector reeling from the pandemic, Hispanic business owners, in particular, have been hit hard, writes reporter L.M. Sixel. More than half of Hispanic business owners in the Houston area reported that sales have dropped since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and nearly half have had to cut their workforce, according to a survey by the University of Houston. Additionally, about one in four have stopped or reduced rent payments and one in eight no longer spend on payroll sources, which UH’s Hobby School for Public Affairs says is sure to affect the broader economy.

9:10 a.m.: Washington correspondent and reporter Ben Wermund reports that anti-corruption group Accountable.US has asked that Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert be investigated for his conduct during the coronavirus pandemic. Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask on Capitol Hill and reportedly “berated” his staff for wearing them, tested positive for COVID-19 virus on July 29.

“At a time when health care and other essential workers lack the personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe on the job, Rep. Gohmert has repeatedly opted not to wear a mask out of personal preference — putting his own health, and the health of all those who work for and around him, in danger,” Accountable.US wrote in a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics. “And it is troubling to hear that individuals who joined the public service as congressional staff feel they must risk their health and well-being in order to fulfill their charge.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has since mandated that all lawmakers and staffers wear masks in the chamber. Previously, they were only required face coverings at hearings.

9:02 a.m.: Occidental Petroleum, also known as Oxy, reported steep losses in its second-quarter thanks to the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the energy sector and the demand and prices for crude, according to business journalist Paul Takahashi. The oil company said it lost $8.4 billion, or $9.12 per share, compared with a profit of $635 million, or 84 cents per share earned during the same period a year ago. Its second-quarter revenue fell to about $3 billion, down from about $4.5 billion during the same period a year ago, and the price of its oil fell about 61 percent to $23.17, down from $58.91 per barrel the same period last year.

8:00 a.m. Texas’ record high positive test rate has been fed by a drop in the average number of viral COVID-19 tests, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of state data.

The seven-day positive test rate on Monday rose from 20.31 percent to a record 20.99 percent. Meanwhile, the seven-day rolling average for viral tests was 31,154, the lowest it has been since June 30.

Statewide, there were 7,304 patients hospitalized for lab-confirmed COVID-19, the 10th straight day with a decline. There are 54,297 total staffed hospital beds and 12,204 beds available, including 1,184 ICU beds available.

— Julian Gill and Stephanie Lamm

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