Virus Outbreak Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. Abbott said that childcare facilities, youth camps, some professional sports, and bars may now begin to fully or partially reopen their facilities as outlined by regulations listed on the Open Texas website. (Lynda M. Gonzalez/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

AUSTIN (AP) — State officials have loosened slightly their prohibition on visitors to some long-term care centers as the number of new confirmed COVID-19 infections continues to slowly but steadily decline.

In a policy shift announced late Thursday, Texas Health and Human Services said physical contact between visitors and residents will still be prohibited. However, limited indoor and outdoor visits to long-term care centers will be allowed at centers that haven’t had an infected staff member in two weeks and where there are no residents currently sick from the disease. Indoor visits will require a plexiglass barrier.

Outdoor visits will be permitted at nursing homes that test staff weekly.

The state had banned indoor visits to nursing home and long-term care center residents when the outbreak began of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The Houston Chronicle reported that a coronavirus outbreak at a Missouri City nursing home has left 17 residents dead.

Of almost 475,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by the state since tracking of the outbreak began in early March, 14,500 were residents of nursing homes and assisted-living centers and 9,514 were employees. Of almost 8,100 who died of the disease, 2,011 were nursing home and assisted-living center residents.

The number of new confirmed cases overall fell slightly Friday in Texas compared to Thursday, but the infection rate remained high.

State officials reported at least 7,039 new confirmed cases, almost 560 fewer than they reported Thursday.

The state reported 293 new COVID-19 deaths Friday in Texas. The state estimated that 134,760 confirmed cases were active with 8,065 patients hospitalized, 237 fewer than Thursday.

But the rate of positive COVID-19 test results remains high, with a rolling seven-day positivity rate of 16.9%, well above the threshold of 5% recommended for reopening by the World Health Organization.

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