AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Texas coronavirus death toll hit a single-day high of 50 Thursday.
The new figures come just as the state prepares for a slow reboot of one of the world’s largest economies by re-opening retail, restaurants, malls and movies to limited amounts of customers.
However, the deaths aren’t necessarily a sign the disease has grown more virulent, according to some experts.
The number of infections is likely higher since many people weren’t tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, according to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Another reason behind the high number of deaths reported is that there’s currently more testing available now more than ever.
‘Yet another factor to consider in the rising number of COVID-19 deaths despite the waning pandemic, is how long on average it takes a person to die from the disease.
“Deaths are a lagging indicator,” Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard University told Fortune. Once people are infected, “it takes around three weeks on average for someone to die.”
Governor Greg Abbott’s spokesman John Wittman told the Associated Press, despite the spike in new infections, Texas has boosted testing and the infection rate per test is down to about 7%, compared with above 10% a few weeks ago.
“As Texas ramps up its testing, there will be more positive cases,” Wittman said. “The hospitalization rate has remained steady and the fact remains Texas has one of the lowest death rates per capita in the country, showing the success of our efforts.”
Abbott’s “stay-at-home” order expires today.
The death toll of 119 during the past three days marks the deadliest stretch since the state’s first fatality in the pandemic was recorded Mar. 17.
Thursday’s 1,033 new cases is the first time the state has surpassed 1,000 since Apr. 8.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)