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May 16, 2020

Abbott Seeks to Keep Hottest Texas Spot Cool
By Attributing Skyrocketing Count to Test Hike

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Texas COVID-19 Major Counties
  County Rates Per 100,000 Population
Ranked on Confirmed Cases
    Cases Deaths Tests
1 Potter 1,727 19.1 3,658
2 Randall 441 3.0 1,142
3 Dallas 269 6.1 2,089
4 Galveston 207 9.3 7,664
5 Tarrant 205 5.7 1,591
6 Lubbock 202 16.4 1,776
7 Brazoria 199 2.5 1,729
8 Travis 194 6.3 1,595
9 Fort Bend 197 5.2 4,511
10 El Paso 197 5.4 1,611
11 Harris 183 4.1 2,282
12 Jefferson 170 10.1 2,713
13 Taylor 159 4.4 2,003
14 Ellis 142 6.9 1,803
15 Brazos 140 8.1 1,064
16 Montgomery 140 3.2 1,772
17 Rockwall 138 5.2 1,537
18 Cameron 137 6.2 1,029
19 Denton 124 3.3 1.552
20 Bexar 108 3.2 1,512
21 Webb 171 6.2 1,130
22 Collin 104 3.2 1,517
23 Hays 102 1.4 1,354
24 Smith 83 1.3 1,353
25 Williamson 82 3.5 1,105
26 Midland 74 7.3 1,223
27 Johnson 73 2.4 1,496
28 Bell 71 0.9 1,536
29 Nueces 64 0.8 608
30 McLennan 39 1.6 1,055

 

Texas COVID-19 Rural Counties
  County Rates Per 100,000 Population
Ranked on Confirmed Cases
    Cases Deaths Tests
1 Moore 2,444 40.7 2.905
2 Panola 680 64.5 1,196
3 Shelby 674 20.0 2,360
4 Deaf Smith 632 10.6 716
5 Walker 516 26.3 1,549
6 Washington 511 62.8 1,283
7 Ochiltree 387 19.9 953
8 Gonazles 359 9.6 1,259
9 Nacogdoches 349 25.9 1,897
10 Castro 332 12.8 1,632
11 Harrison 300 28.5 1,023
12 Dawson 296 7.8 1,283
13 Coryell 295 2.7 1,283
14 Hansford 292 36.5 310
15 San Augustine 266 12.1 1,151
16 Titus 252 3.1 790
17 Grimes 225 3.6 1,045
18 Hardin 203 7.0 525

Governor Greg Abbott sought to assure Amarillo residents on Saturday that a dramatic spike in the number of coronavirus cases is a direct reflection of a corresponding increase in testing and not a sign that the outbreak there has escalated.

The largest city in the Texas Panhandle already had been the epicenter of the COVID-19 surge across a state that reported a record number of infections today with 1,801 positive tests in the past 24 hours.

But the confirmed coronavirus case count in Potter and Randall counties that Amarillo straddles soared almost 40 percent in the same time span compared to the total number that had been recorded over the course of the past two months heading into the weekend.

With 743 new cases since Friday afternoon, the two counties over which Amarillo is spread have a combined per capita rate of virus infections that's almost six times higher than Harris County and four times more than Dallas County. Potter - the county with the 39th largest population in Texas - ranks fifth in the total number of confirmed cases after moving ahead of El Paso and Fort Bend counties today.

Moore County on Potter's northern border has had the leading rate of coronavirus cases in the state by far since the disease erupted in the workforce at a massive beef processing plant there early last month.

But the Amarillo area has been hammered by the virus much harder than the other major population center in Texas as a result of an outbreak at a meat packing facility on the outskirts of the city and its proximity to Moore and other slaughtering operations as well.

The Republican governor appeared to be attempting to defuse the potential for public panic when he informed the city's residents that the surge in coronavirus cases is tied directly to a significant boost in testing there.

Abbott said that he'd sent so-called Surge Response Teams to the Panhandle and other areas that have been ravaged during the pandemic for the purpose testing more people as the most effective weapon that officials have in the coronavirus battle. The governor pointed out that a boost in testing will fuel an increase in the number of coronavirus infections that are confirmed in a statistical twist that could create the appearance the disease is spreading more here than it really is.

"As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails," Abbott said. "By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo."

 

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