Texas Major Counties
COVID Cases Per 100,000 Population
  Texas 254
1 Potter 2,286
2 Randall 541
3 Dallas 441
4 El Paso 392
5 Harris 300
6 Travis 295
7 Tarrant 291
8 Grayson 284
9 Fort Bend 277
10 Brazoria 273
11 Galveston 270
12 Brazos 254
13 Jefferson 242
14 Lubbock 240
15 Webb 208
16 Ellis 204
17 Gregg 202
18 Kaufman 202
19 Cameron 198
20 Rockwall 193
21 Montgomery 180
22 Taylor 178
23 Hays 173
24 Denton 169
25 Bexar 152
26 Collin 142


Texas Hot Spot Counties
  COVID Cases Per 100,000 Population
  Texas 254
1 Moore 3,961
2 Jones 3,214
3 Walker 2,562
4 Potter 2,286
5 Titus 1,765
6 Deaf Smith 934
7 Panola 920
8 Sherman 909
9 Parmer 892
10 Shelby 838
11 Grimes 797
12 Donley 783
13 Mason 748
14 Gonazles 706
15 Camp 668
16 Pecos 665
17 Houston 652
18 Red River 608
19 Washington 581
20 Crane 570
21 Randall 541
22 San Augustine 535
23 Ochiltree 513
24 Gray 475
25 Nacogdoches 458
26 Castro 444
27 Dallas 441
28 El Paso 392
29 Coryell 386
30 Harrison 384
31 Dallam 375
32 Hansford 366
33 Dawson 341
34 Bowie 332
35 Lamar 310
36 Harris 300
37 Bastrop 295
38 Travis 295
39 Tarrant 291
40 Wheeler 289
41 Cottle 288
42 Grayson 284
43 Fort Bend 277
44 Floyd 274
45 Brazoria 273
46 Angelina 271
47 Galveston 270
484- Bailey 270
49 Hardin 241
50 Lubbock 240












Protesters march peacefully to Texas Capitol Saturday on way to APD demonstration


June 6, 2020

Texas Reopening Revolves on Suspect and Faulty Claims
with Abbott Rural Hot Spot Focus as Virus Surges in Cities

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Coronavirus Torches Amarillo
after Governor Takes Credit
for Arresting Outbreak There

Governor Greg Abbott spoke too soon when he traveled to the Potter County seat of Amarillo last week to herald the job that his surge response teams had accomplished in an emergency mission to put the brakes on an alarming coronavirus outbreak in the Texas Panhandle.

While Potter County had experienced a significant decline in new cases for a week before the gubernatorial briefing on May 27, Abbott might be wondering now if he jinxed himself with a major COVID-19 spike since he declared that the state had the situation under control.

Potter County had its second highest daily increase in virus infections on Saturday with 250 people testing positive there since mid-afternoon the day before.

One of two counties that the city of Amarillo straddles, Potter has recorded 516 new cases since Abbott proclaimed the deployment there to have been a success. The vault in the past 10 days represents almost 20 percent of a total of 2,754 infections that have been confirmed there since the first two cases surfaced there on March 21.

Potter had 33 new daily virus infections on average in the 68 days prior to Abbott's visit there. Potter County has almost 52 cases a day on average since he touted the surge response effort there with the Amarillo delegation to the Legislature on hand for the event that was designed to celebrate what proved to be another coronavirus mirage.

Before the reinforcements from Austin landed midway through May, Potter had set a record for new infections in one day with 148 cases reported there on May 13. That mark fell when the governor's surge responders logged 618 infections there two days later.

Abbott said that the virus-taming response in the Amarillo area would be a model for future efforts in major outbreak locations. But the coronavirus has made a comeback that the governor failed to foresee with more new cases reported in Potter today than Bexar and Tarrant combined as the third and fourth largest counties in the state.

Texans will be hoping that he misread in the northwestern tip of Texas won't be a foreshadowing of what to expect in other areas where the disease is sizzling.

"Here in Texas, we have implemented a strategy that enables Texans to get back to work while mitigating further spread of COVID-19," Abbott said in Amarillo.

"Amarillo is an example of this strategy in action, and our surge response teams have done a tremendous job in containing the hot spots within the Amarillo community and protecting health and safety. As we continue in our efforts, we are committed to prioritizing public health while safely and strategically opening the state." 






Governor Greg Abbott has been basing the Texas economic resurgence on antiquated information, ambiguous generalities and misleading claims about the coronavirus spread being under control in a state where it has actually intensified in a direct correlation with the reopening of businesses here.

After employing a relatively cautious strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic's first two months, the Republican governor has appeared to be bowing increasingly to pressure from President Donald Trump supporters on the hard right by giving Texans the false impression that the virus is under control across the state.

There's no apparent evidence that Abbott has been flat-out lying to the public about the contagion in Texas. But the governor has incorrectly asserted that most of the new coronavirus cases in Texas have been confined to correctional facilities, the meat packing industry and nursing homes as major hot spots in the early stages of the pandemic.

Abbott failed to mention when he announced Phase 3 of the reopening this week that the virus has been spiking at a troubling rate in the largest Texas cities where a majority of the state's residents are based.

"As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants," Abbott said on Thursday. "Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business."

The governor's optimistic outlook contained a glaring omission without a single reference to major coronavirus surges in the Houston, Dallas, Austin and El Paso areas where spikes were predictable after protests erupted in those locations last week in response to Texas native George Floyd's killing by police in Minneapolis.

Abbott said nothing about a dramatic and potentially unrealistic expansion in the emergency testing initiative that's focused on smaller towns with Amarillo as the largest city where surge response teams have been dispatched since the governor created them early last month.

Abbott make the mistake of claiming at a news conference in Amarillo last week that surge response teams had contained the spread in the Texas Panhandle where he'd forced Potter, Randall, Moore and Deaf Smith counties to wait a week before moving into the second phase of the reopening. While the increases in coronavirus infections had leveled off for a week or two when Abbott claimed a tentative victory there, the optimistic outlook that he touted at the Amarillo stop proved to be terribly wrong when 250 new cases were reported in Potter County in the past 24 hours. The number of infections in Potter County between Friday and Saturday afternoons was the second highest spike in a single day there since the outbreak.

The state as a whole had its second worst day on record during the contagion as well with 1,940 new cases since mid-afternoon on Friday - just nine short of the daily record that had been set just six days ago.

The governor and other state officials deserve a considerable amount of slack in fairness while attempting to navigate the first major global pandemic in more than a century. Abbott had strong public support for the actions that he'd been taking before declaring the state to be safe enough to start to reopen at the start of May. He probably could have moved at the same pace that he has with the easing of coronavirus restrictions without a significant change in his virus response approval ratings without the need to make it look like the disease wasn't as much of a threat as it had been in the pandemic's first two months.

But the governor has put his credibility at risk in recent weeks by citing statistics that are suspect at best in light of the state's constantly evolving reporting coronavirus reporting system that's appeared to be a shell game at times regardless of whether by calculation or coincidence.

* Moore County is a prime example of convoluted coronavirus data that doesn't add up as the number one hot spot in the state since an outbreak in April at a massive beef processing facility in the tiny Texas Panhandle town of Cactus about 60 miles north of Amarillo. Moore had the highest per capita COVID-19 rate in Texas before the Department of State Health Services subtracted 14 cases from the cumulative total on May 13. The state agency reported an average of eight new cases a day for the following week before erasing 71 more alleged infections from the total count several days before Abbott's visit to the Panhandle. But the disappearing infections proved to be a mirage when the state reported 149 new cases in Moore County on Tuesday less than a week after Abbott assured residents that the state had contained the spread there.

* Walker County where the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is headquartered had a surprisingly low number of coronavirus cases confirmed there before a sharp spike on May 13 based on the DSHS data that showed a single-day record of 51 new infections there. But the state deleted 30 cases from the cumulative Walker County count the following day. The state subtracted 122 ostensibly confirmed coronavirus cases from the Walker County tally one week later on May 21. But any delusions that Walker residents might have had about people untesting positive for the virus evaporated when the state added 241 cases to the county's cumulative count on May 27 before 510 more were stacked on to the total there four days later.

* The exploding numbers in Walker County where more than a half-dozen prison units are located raised the specter that state officials had decided to consolidate inmate infections around the state into the TDCJ home base count with a reporting change that would have lowered them by a corresponding amount in other places where Texas has prisoners incarcerated. But that theory appeared to unravel when the state added 425 cases in the past week to the running total in Jones County where a state prison unit and a federal immigration detention center are located.

* The state caught Pecos County officials by surprise this week when they discovered that reported 75 new coronavirus infections there last weekend in a move that more that quadrupled the cumulative tally. The massive unforeseen spike put the reopening there in reverse by pushing the county where Fort Stockton is the largest town from Phase 2 back to Phase 1. Pecos pleaded to Abbott without apparent success for the state to not count coronavirus cases at the minimum-security that has a transient population against the county as far as restrictions on businesses were concerned.

* While the outbreak has appeared to be relatively contained in Potter and Randall counties that Amarillo straddles, the coronavirus might have simply moved on down the road 50 miles based on a 90 percent vault in the running total that had stood at 58 after two months before 30 cases were added to the count in the past four days.

The governor was technically correct about the state having flattened the curve for a week or so when he announced the first phase of the reopening in late April after having the state effectively locked down for more than a month. Abbott had been accurate midway through last month when he relaxed restrictions even more based on the assertion that state officials had harnessed the virus spread through a significant increase in testing around Texas.

The number of people who were hospitalized in Texas had usually been down two or three days whenever the governor has pointed to that as a significant factor when he's eased limitations on businesses in recent weeks. Abbott has correctly noted that surge response teams have helped slow the virus spread with escalations in testing at hot spots that have often been in rural areas.

But the governor has been abandoning the more deliberate approach that he'd taken at the outset of the crisis since he effectively gutted the emergency powers that he'd been wielding after being hoodwinked a month ago by a publicity stunt that pro-Trump anti-lockdown dissidents concocted and staged with Dallas beautician Shelley Luther's jailing for thumbing her nose at the Abbott order that had shuttered her business temporarily.

Abbott has fudged his words since the Luther fiasco and crafted them in a way that's vague with ample escape hatches for deniability in the event of being accused of prevaricating.

But Abbott wasn't been telling the whole truth this week when he unveiled Phase 3 of the reopening based on highly deceptive claims about most of the new coronavirus cases in Texas emerging in selective locations where the emergency testing squads had appeared to curb spreads to various degrees.

The big cities are the hot spots now with record-breaking spikes in the past few days in Harris, Dallas, Travis and El Paso counties and the highest daily number of new cases this week in Fort Bend and Galveston counties in or near the Houston area in almost two months.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals hit its highest point in a month on Friday with the second largest daily count since the disease surfaced here three months ago.

Testing in Texas has fallen short of Abbott expectations as well in a state where he'd set a goal a month ago of having an average of 30,000 diagnostic tests administered around the state each day. Abbott said that more than 25,000 had been tested on average daily basis for a week before accelerating the reopening last month. But the number that the governor had been citing as a major guiding factor in the lifting of coronavirus restrictions turned out to be inflated when the state's combining of viral and antibody tests into a singular number was exposed almost a month ago. The state hasn't reached the governor's threshold mark since the state's admission on the bloated Texas reporting numbers.


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