Harris County coronavirus count: Testing positivity inches up; hospitalizations largely unchanged
The average coronavirus testing positivity rate is on a slow incline in Harris County after falling for most of the year and hitting a plateau around mid-March, according to the latest data from the Harris County Public Health Department. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
The 14-day average for testing positivity hit 9.1% as of April 14, the most recent data available. That total is up from 8.5% on April 7 and a recent low of 8.3% in late March. However, the positivity rate is still well below the 19.9% the county was seeing in early January. Prior to the recent uptick, the rate declined from about 13% in late February to 8.5% in mid-March, when it hit a plateau.
Public health officials have set a target of less than 5% for testing positivity that they say is one of several factors that indicates community control of the virus.
Meanwhile, the number of patients with COVID-19 in Harris County hospitals has also plateaued with 643 COVID-19 patients in general ward beds and 252 in intensive care units as of April 21, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. Those totals are similar to where they were at the start of the month with general ward occupancies down slightly and ICU occupancies up slightly.
About 17% of the total patients in ICUs have COVID-19, according to SETRAC, which is above the 15% threshold set by health officials for lowering the county's COVID-19 threat level from "severe."
The seven-day average for daily new cases is at around 468 as of April 21, according to public health data. That total has fluctuated between the mid-400s and mid-500s since April 7 after falling for several months.
Active cases in the county clocked in at an estimated 9,950 on April 21, which is a little higher than the 9,843 recorded April 14. Of the 387,285 total cases confirmed in the county, 373,316 have recovered, and 4,000 have died. A total of 103 COVID-19 deaths were confirmed in the county over the past week.
About one-quarter of eligible Harris County residents have been vaccinated, according to county officials. Officials recently announced several measures to improve vaccine access, including a new on-demand system for making appointments and an effort to provide vaccines to people at NRG Park with no appointment needed.