Hope Mounts as Covid-19 Counts Decrease in Texas

The continued economic growth and reopening of the economy in Texas, and in Brazos County, critically depends on getting a handle on the recent surge of Covid-19 cases. Fortunately, the recent evidence from last week is relatively good news, with declining rates of new infections and declining counts of active cases. There are positive signs in the major population centers of Texas, and Brazos County continues to show declining rates.

Beginning in mid-June, Texas saw a rise in both the number of new cases reported daily and the number of active cases. Active cases are important, and new cases obviously add to the active case totals, but those recovering from the disease subtract from the active case totals. If the number of recoveries exceed the number of new cases, the active case numbers will fall.

The situation in Brazos County has been improving since July 2, when our number of new cases per 1,000 of population hit its all-time high of 0.47. Since that time, our number of new cases has been on the decline, hitting just under 0.20 new cases per 1,000 of population on July 26. We have cut our rate by more than half, to a level last seen in mid-June. While there is still a public health concern, the situation is much better than it was at the beginning of July.


The rest of Texas is following this trend. Overall, the state number has dropped from 0.33 new daily cases per 1,000 of population to 0.27 new cases. Harris County and Dallas County seem to have turned the corner from their rather dire positions of a week past, and other populous counties also show declining rates of new cases. These are positive developments and indicate we seem to have reached a turning point.[1]


What about active cases? These are an estimate of those currently ill with the disease, and thus the give an indication of the current burden of Covid-19 on the community. To construct these estimates, health officials need to estimate the number recovered and subtract those from the number of total cases. Thus, these data are perhaps less precise than the daily new case data used above.

Here again, the evidence is that Brazos County has had a favorable trend in the several weeks, with active cases per 1,000 of population declining from a high of 5.4 on July 8 to the current value of about 3.0. Travis County, El Paso County, and Dallas County show evidence of recent, smaller declines in active cases. Although lower than the previous week, Harris County shows still-rising numbers of active cases. Still, the evidence seems to point to a decline in active cases, although with a lag, as recoveries happen only over some period of time. 


Overall, it seems that results from the restrictions announced by the Governor in late June, and the accompanying increased public acceptance of mask use and social distancing, have finally shown up in the data. In comparison to the largest population centers, Brazos County has had a high infection rate relative to its population size, both in terms of active cases and in terms of new cases, but has for the last several weeks exhibited declining rates of new infections and declining number of active cases. Ideally this trend continues here and around the state, and provides further impetus for further economic recovery.

[1] All data used in these graphs is from the Texas Department of State Health Services:   https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/additionaldata/

Posted: July 28, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen