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FILE - This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. On Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, The Associated Press reported on a video circulating online incorrectly asserting that man in Wuhan, China, was sanitizing his apartment with alcohol when the air conditioner came on and caused an explosion and fire. The fire captured on video was the result of a cigarette that was improperly put out on a comforter. The comforter then ignited and was placed on a balcony where nearby debris caught fire in Chongqing, China, a city hundreds of miles away from Wuhan. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Texas passed a grim milestone of more than 6,100 deaths caused by the coronavirus, with 313 newly reported fatalities Wednesday.

In Kerr County, there were five new cases reported and eight people remained hospitalized at Peterson Regional Medical Center. The county currently has about 50 active cases and there have been 371 total cases since March.

Death tolls escalated rapidly in recent weeks as the state saw a surge of newly confirmed cases and hospitalizations in June and July. The Texas Department of State Health Services also changed the way it has reported deaths in two ways:

  • Only deaths directly attributed to the COVID-19 virus are counted. This method does not include deaths of people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause, health officials said.
  • It also presents information by the date of death, which can be delayed by up to 10 days when the death certificate must be provided to the state. 

For instance, Wednesday’s death toll is not from the last 24 hours but could be from two weeks previously, according to state data. However, the new way of reporting demonstrates that the state has had more than 100 people die from COVID-19 in at least 18 consecutive days in the month of July. 

Texas also reported 9,595 COVID-19 patients in the hospital Wednesday and 9,042 newly confirmed cases, the most in nearly a week. The true number of cases in Texas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. 

The state’s rolling rate of positive tests continued a slow decline as it fell to 12.6%, its lowest mark in more than a month. Kerr County’s most recent positivity rates — all measured through Peterson Health — was about 10.7%.

The San Antonio region for the DSHS, which includes Kerr County, COVID-19 patients accounted for about 27% of all hospitalizations.

Texas is already one of the nation’s virus hot spots and Gov. Greg Abbott has said he’s concerned that last weekend’s hit from Hurricane Hanna across South Texas cause more virus spread if families or friends gathered in groups to ride out the storm or evacuate.

State health officials changed how they compiled fatality data this week by using the cause of death listed on death certificates, instead of waiting for local and regional public health authorities to report them. Death certificates are required by law to be filed within 10 days.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Earlier this week, three 85-person U.S. Army Reserve medical task forces were deployed to help hard-hit areas in South Texas, supporting hospitals in Corpus Christi, Victoria, Harlingen and Edinburg. Those teams join three other active-duty Army medical task forces and five Navy medical teams that arrived in Texas earlier this month. 

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