Texas COVID Stats – CDC Weeks 29 & 30

July 27th, 2020

By Bill King

During CDC Weeks 29 & 30 (ending 7/18 and 7/25) Texas experienced its highest level of COVID-19 fatalities since the outbreak with 846 and 1020 in each week, respectively. A disproportionate number of the fatalities are occurring in south Texas. Hidalgo County, which only comprises 3% of the state’s population, had 18% of the fatalities in the state over the last two weeks.

For historical context, there are about 3,650 fatalities from all causes for each of these weeks in 2019. If all of fatalities reported as COVID related are incremental, i.e., they would not have occurred but for the COVID infection, fatalities for these weeks will run about 25% above normal. Previous annual variations in the number of fatalities for these weeks has been about 1%.

Despite the higher level of fatalities over the last two weeks, Texas still has one of the lowest per capita fatalities rates in U.S. (16.34 per 100,000), ranking 32th overall and 19th among the twenty most populous states. The Texas per capita rate is about 40% of the national average.

A hopeful sign is that new cases and the positivity rate both plateaued during the period and began to trend lower. Of course, it remains to be seen if that trend will continue.

Texas continues to ramp up testing, averaging 66,000 during the last week. Total tests conducted in Texas are now equal to 11% of the state’s population. However, that still lags far behind New York (28%), California (18%) and Florida (15%).

Hospitalizations trended up during the first 10 days (10,083 – 10,893). However, on July 23rd there was a change in the reporting procedures which resulted in a less than complete census for the last three days. However, looking at some regional data, it appears both general hospital bed and ICU usage has also plateaued and begun to slightly decline. A good place to review the status of hospitals in the Houston region is Southeast Regional Advisory Council website.

How long can Coronavirus survive on clothes?

April 22nd, 2020

NASSAU BAY — (APRIL 22, 2020) —Right now, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic likely has you armed to disinfect every commonly touched surface in your home. But what about your clothes? After a trip to the grocery store, is it possible that your clothes are contaminated with coronavirus?

Can coronavirus live on your clothes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most likely way for the virus to spread is through close contact with someone who’s infected (even if they don’t know it). This is why continuing to practice social distancing is so important.

However, early laboratory evidence also suggests that coronavirus can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces anywhere from hours to a few days.

Unfortunately, the same study didn’t examine how long the virus can survive on fabrics — so it remains a possibility that coronavirus can live on clothes for several hours. On the other hand, soft, porous surfaces — such as the sleeves of your shirt — actually limit the likelihood of spreading these viruses for two reasons:

  • These viruses are more likely to get trapped within the fibers and weave of permeable surfaces like fabric, making it less likely for the virus to later transfer to your hand, face or another surface.
  • These viruses are much less infective (potentially non-infective) when dried out, and fabrics are more likely to absorb and suck water away from a virus.

When in doubt, do some laundry

If you’re worried that your clothes may have been contaminated while at the store or another public space where social distancing is challenging, toss them into the washing machine when you get home.  If you’re taking care of someone who has COVID-19, there are extra precautions the CDC recommends when it comes to handling and washing clothing, including:

  • Wearing gloves while handling a sick person’s laundry, and then washing your hands after removing the gloves
  • Avoiding shaking dirty laundry
  • Using your washing machine’s warmest water setting, when possible
  • Cleaning and disinfecting laundry hampers regularly or using a disposable bag liner

In addition, if you rely on a communal space to wash your clothes, such as a laundromat, you may also want to take these extra precautions:

  • Continue to social distance. Make sure you keep six feet between yourself and others.
  • Lessen the amount of time you spend there. Consider sorting and folding your clothes at home and avoid hanging out at the laundromat between wash cycles or loads.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Before and after touching communal washing machines, sanitize your hands and wipe down handles, buttons and knobs.

A quick word on coronavirus and your cloth mask

The CDC recommends washing your cloth mask in your washing machine using household laundry detergent regularly, depending on frequency of use. This means that the more often you wear your cloth mask, the more often it should be washed. In addition, if a washing cycle damages or misshapes your cloth mask, it’s time to make a new one.

Concerned you may have COVID-19?

  • If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go. For more information about Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent Care, please visit houstonmethodist.org/virtual-urgent-care to learn how to connect with a provider. 

About Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital

Houston Methodist Clear Lake brings the expertise and compassionate care of Houston Methodist Hospital in The Texas Medical Center to Clear Lake communities. The hospital provides a broad spectrum of adult medical and surgical care, is an accredited chest pain center, and is also a Primary Stroke Center designated through DNV. Houston Methodist Clear Lake offers many inpatient and outpatient services including a Breast Care Center with 3-D mammography, state-of-the-art imaging, labor and delivery with a level II neonatal ICU, Cancer Center, weight loss surgery and advanced laparoscopic surgery, comprehensive orthopedics and sports medicine, cardiovascular services, neurology, urology and otolaryngology. Visit houstonmethodist.org/clearlake to learn more and to find a doctor near you.

COVID-19 cases in Harris and Galveston Counties

April 15th, 2020

Harris County case count by city

(Week of April 12)

Baytown — 23

Bellaire — 15

Bunker Hill — 7

Clear Lake City –- 0-10 +

City of Houston — 2,124

Deer Park — 14

El Lago — 0

Friendswood — 0

Galena Park — 2

Hedwig Village — 2

Hilshire Village — 0

Humble — 10

Hunters Creek — 0

Jacinto City — 2

Jersey Village — 6

Katy — 3

La Porte — 32

League City — 1

Missouri City — 6

Morgan’s Point — 0

Nassau Bay — 5

Pasadena — 40

Pearland — 7

Piney Point Village — 5

Seabrook — 2

Shoreacres — 0

South Houston — 5

Southside Place — 2

Spring Valley Village — 2

Stafford — 0

Taylor Lake Village — 5

Tomball — 6

Waller — 1

Webster — 6

West University Place — 11

Galveston County case county by city

Bacliff/Bayview/San Leon — 8

Bayou Vista — 0

Bolivar Peninsula — 2

Clear Lake Shores — 1

Dickinson — 23

Friendswood — 21

Galveston — 25

Hitchcock — 9

Jamaica Beach — 0

Kemah — 3

La Marque — 20

League City — 110

Santa Fe/Algoa — 10

Texas City — 123

Tiki Island — 0

+ 0-10 cases reported in Clear Lake City zip codes 77062, 77058 & 77059

Sources: Harris County Public Health and Galveston County Public Health

Houston Health Department Expands COVID-19 Test Sites to Anyone Wanting to Get Tested 

April 13th, 2020

The Houston Health Department’s two COVID-19 drive-thru sites will broaden testing to anyone wanting to get a test and double their daily testing capacity to 1,000 on Tuesday.    

Each community site will ramp up its testing capacity from 250 to 500 people per day. The tests are free to the public.

People can call the department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to receive a unique identification code and instructions on where to go for testing and how to obtain their test results.

The community sites only accept people with the identification code obtained through the department’s COVID-19 call center. People showing up at the test sites without an identification code will not get tested.

The testing sites will continue operating until further notice.

Workers at the sites only collect insurance information and don’t accept payment. The information obtained through testing or services will not be used against immigrants in their public charge evaluation.

COVID-19 Statistics – Update No. 4

April 7th, 2020

By Bill King

This is a follow-up to my earlier posts where I began to track the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 daily situation reports. I have updated the spreadsheet here through WHO’s Sunday (April 5) evening report.

The number of global cases and fatalities about doubled this week as the number of cases went from 635,000 to 1,133,000 and fatalities grew from 30,000 to 63,000. However, the rate of increase has slowed.

The stat I think is the most important to watch is the daily percentage change in the number of new cases. This is the rate that determines whether the increase is geometric or arithmetic. After the outbreak in Europe began in earnest the increase in new daily cases grew over 12% on March 23. But since, the daily percentage increase has declined, coming in just a little over 7% yesterday.

That rate is still far too high. At a 7% daily compounding rate, over a billion people would be infected in a matter of months. But in Europe, which is much further along in the outbreak, the number of new cases was nearly flat last week and in Asia new cases have slowed to a trickle. Conversely, a serious outbreak in a country with a large population, say India, would result in a dramatic increase in the rate.

The US daily increase averaged 9% last week. However, that may not be comparable to other countries because testing here is now ramping up much more quickly than anywhere else in the world (see below).

Here are some of the other key metrics from the week:

According to the COVID Tracking Project, the US has continued to substantially ramp up testing. As of yesterday, almost 1.76 million tests have been completed. Almost half of those tests were completed last week. Since testing began about 19% of patients have tested positive.1

As of yesterday, there is still no country in the world where the confirmed infection rate has exceeded three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) of that country’s population.

The New York state health department is tracking fatalities by age. According to its latest data, 82% of all fatalities have been over 60. Only 3% have been under 30.

The total COVID-19 fatalities yesterday (5,798) likely represents about 3.5% of all global fatalities for the day.

Harris County extends Stay Home, Work Safe Order

March 20th, 2020

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced on Tuesday, March 31, the extension of the Stay Home, Work Safe order that will now run through April 30. This announcement comes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also ordered social distancing activities to be extended through the end of April.

The City of Seabrook continues to follow the orders of both the county and the state and said its city offices will remain closed to public access through the end of April. Essential city personnel will continue to serve the needs of the community.

“We highly encourage all residents and businesses to adhere to the orders and follow all social distancing recommendations from the CDC, state, and county.”

These additional recommendations are highly suggested:

  • Limit the number of times per week you go to the grocery store.
  • Consider having groceries delivered or using curbside pickup services.
  • Only get what you need at the store. Don’t hoard or stockpile. Leave items for others.
  • The trails and most parks remain open. Please practice social distancing when outdoors.
  • Do not host or attend block parties or other social gatherings.
  • Now is not the time for family get-togethers or playdates. Limit the number of people in your home to just your immediate family and/or caregivers.
  • Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after pumping gas or going to public places.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms, please take the online assessment provided by Harris County Public Health.
  • If you have recently traveled to the states of Louisiana, California, Washington, or New York or the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and/or Miami you should self-quarantine for 14 days per Governor Abbott’s recent travel restrictions order.

“Please do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and continue to#StayHomeSeabrook,” a Seabrook spokesman said.

UH-Clear Lake takes COVID-19 action; classes to go online

March 12th, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

To allow faculty, staff and students to address professional and personal matters in response to the city of Houston and Harris County emergency health declarations and to do our part in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, we are taking the following actions at UH-Clear Lake, UH-Clear Lake at Pearland and all off-campus locations.

Classes (face-to-face and online), including lectures, seminars, discussions and/or presentations, will not be held next week (March 16-21). Beginning March 23, classes will be offered remotely (online or alternative format) until further notice.

Students are encouraged to stay home. Hunter Hall and Dining Services will be open for those deciding to return from spring break. Student Housing and Residential Life will be available, and all protocols regarding sanitization and hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus are being followed.

Faculty and staff may work from home to the extent that they are able to perform their functions remotely and with prior approval from their supervisor and Human Resources. All UH-Clear Lake campuses will remain open, and all offices and services will continue to operate until further notice. Research labs will be open, and related services will remain in operation.

Events and programming funded and sponsored by UH-Clear Lake are cancelled through April 30. If you have an event planned during the month of April that cannot be rescheduled, please consult with the vice president of your division.

Facilities will be maintained using sanitization and hygiene protocols as recommended by authorities. This includes increased custodial cleaning and the availability of hand sanitizer dispensers at all entrances, common areas and elevators.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at UH-Clear Lake or any other system university. UH-Clear Lake’s Emergency Management team works with local, state and federal authorities on a daily basis. We will keep you informed about any updates as they relate to your work and learning at UH-Clear Lake. Meanwhile, we urge you to follow personal hygiene precautions and exercise social distancing measures as recommended by the CDC and local health authorities.

I understand that these precautionary measures may be inconvenient and disappointing to you, but we hope that these efforts can help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Your health and safety are our priority.

Please find more information about COVID-19 at www.uhcl.edu/health-alert. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us by emailing [email protected]. Further communication for faculty, staff and students will be forthcoming Thursday.


Ira K. Blake, Ph.D.
UHCL President

Bay Area Houston Magazine