The county previously surpassed 40,000 active cases in late July, reaching a peak of more than 48,260 on July 31. However, the county adjusted the way it tracked active cases Aug. 1 to begin excluding cases for which it had been "28 days or more since the case was reported, or released from [the] hospital and [is] not deceased," which caused the active case count to fall by just under 20,000 cases in one day. Officials said the active case count can be hard to accurately track on a daily basis due to the sheer number of cases in the county.
The quick rise in active cases is occurring as public health officials have confirmed more than 2,400 new cases of COVID-19 for the fifth consecutive day in Harris County. Another 3,990 new cases were confirmed Jan. 11, including 1,450 new cases in the city of Houston and 2,540 in the county outside of the city.
A total of 1,335 cases in the city of Houston were from specimen collections over the past 14 days, while 2,329 of the Harris County cases were from the past 14 days, according to tweets from the entities' respective public health departments.
We report 1,460* cases of #COVID19 today, bringing #Houston's total to 131,035**. There are three newly-reported deaths, bringing the city’s total to 1,600. *Of the 1,460 cases reported today, 78% (1,335) have specimen collection dates within the past 14 days. #HouNews (1/2) pic.twitter.com/zPM2W4cFnS
— Houston Health Dept (@HoustonHealth) January 11, 2021
Out of the newly added cases since yesterday (in Harris County, not including city of Houston), 2329
are recent cases (within 14 days of symptom onset/collection date).
— Harris County Public Health #SocialDistance (@hcphtx) January 11, 2021
The seven-day average for new daily cases in Harris County was above 2,700 as of Jan. 27, the second-highest point since the pandemic began, behind the period of time immediately after the state released a large backlog of test results in late September.
The 14-day average for testing positivity has also continued to rapidly increase, with the most recent data from Jan. 4 putting the rate at 18.8%, up from 15.4% one week prior.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Harris County hospitals hit 2,271 as of Jan. 11, up from 2,040 as of Jan. 4. The number of patients in general wards increased by 184 over that time, while the number of patients in intensive care units increased by 47. About 35.2% of people in ICUs in Harris County have COVID-19, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. COVID-19 hospitalizations are also up in the Texas Medical Center.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 221,450 of the county's 266,525 cases have recovered, and 2,708 have died. Another 50 deaths have been confirmed over the past week, putting the death toll in the county at 2,708.
The increase in cases comes as the state began operating large-scale COVID-19 "vaccination hubs" this week. A total of 10,725 Pfizer doses and 16,000 Moderna doses have been provided to three Houston-area hubs and will be distributed to health care workers, people age 65 and older and other individuals who fall into Phases 1A and 1B of the state's vaccination plan.