A total of 1,326 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed July 20 in Harris County, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 57,095, including 37,844 active cases and 18,706 recovered cases.
A total of nine deaths were also confirmed July 20, bringing the total to 544. Two of those deaths were employees of the Houston Public Works Department, Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press conference.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Harris County general wards and intensive care units both ticked up slightly July 20 from the previous day. General ward occupancy was up to 1,888 on July 20 from 1,757 on July 19, while ICU occupancy was up to 725 on July 20 from 659 on July 19.
Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse acknowledged that the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations was not as sharp as it was earlier in the month, saying that mask wearing and social distancing could be responsible for the improved situation. Since base ICU capacity in the Texas Medical Center is still fully occupied, Persse urged residents to continue to exercise caution.
The testing positivity rate fell slightly to 20% in the Houston area, according to data being tracked by TMC at its member hospitals. That number is down from a high of 23% on July 9 but still higher than the 5%-7% range it hovered in around early June before it began to rise rapidly about one month ago.
Harris County officials also issued guidance to local school districts July 20 to take advantage of a new Texas Education Agency provision allowing for the delay of in-person instruction by eight weeks. In a press release, officials cited the prevalence of the virus on the community.