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Texas has entered its third surge of COVID-19 cases

As the Delta variant becomes more common, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are increasing in East Texas and around the state
Credit: TEGNA

TYLER, Texas — Texas has entered its third surge of coronavirus cases as the Delta variant gains a larger foothold.

More people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Texas in the last week than in any other state, and it ranks 13th among all states for most cases per capita.

The number of newly-reported cases per day has more than tripled during the month of July, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). On July 1, Texas reported a seven-day rolling average of 757 confirmed cases per day. By Monday, that number has risen to 2,375 cases per day.

DSHS says the positivity rate—or rolling seven-day average of the percentage of tests that show a positive result—has surpassed 10 percent for three consecutive days. The rate was last that high in February. Ten percent is significant because Governor Greg Abbott considered it a red flag during the early stages of the pandemic and at one point used it as the cut-off when deciding whether to allow bars to open or remain closed.

On Monday, DSHS reported that 3,046 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Texas. That figure has doubled since June 30 and is the highest it has been since April 12.

A similar trend can be seen in East Texas as at the statewide level.

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In the seven counties NET Health covers, the daily case rate is nearly three times higher now than it was July 1, and the number of COVID-19 patients in Tyler-Longview hospitals has doubled, as well.

The increase in cases and hospitalizations is likely due to the Delta variant. Scientists blame it for rising infection rates in all 50 states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant accounts for more than half of all new cases. It spreads faster and causes more severe symptoms than any of the other variants of coronavirus. Unvaccinated people are especially susceptible to it, though it is also causing infections in people who are fully vaccinated. Doctors believe people who have finished their vaccine series (at least two weeks since their only shot of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine or two shots of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccines) are less likely to develop severe symptoms if infected.

RELATED: Public health experts see East Texas as potential hotspot for coronavirus Delta variant

While numbers are rising quickly in East Texas and Texas as a whole, they are far from the peaks recorded in January or last summer. While Texas averages 2,375 cases per day now, it averaged nearly 20,000 per day in mid-January.

According to the CDC, Texas ranks 34th among the 50 states for the percentage of adults who are fully vaccinated. DSHS measures the vaccination rates for people 12 and older (everyone eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine) as well as for seniors, and in both measures, every East Texas county falls below the statewide average.

If you want to find a nearby location offering COVID-19 vaccines, text your zip code to 438829.