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Texas Coronavirus Deaths Exceed 1,000 Amid Phase 2 of Governor Abbott’s Reopening Plan

Confirmed coronavirus deaths surged past 1,000 in Texas over the weekend, a grim reminder that COVID-19 still stalks the Lone Star State even as non-essential businesses continue to reopen.

1,088 Texans Dead from COVID-19

According to the Texas Department of Public Health Services, 38,869 COVID-19 infections were confirmed in the state as of May 10th. That’s an increase of 1,009 from just a day earlier and  more than 7,200 from the prior week.

At least 1,088 Texans have died due to COVID-19, although many experts are warning that the true number of coronavirus fatalities is likely much higher.

“It’s not an accurate count at all,” Mark Hayward, a mortality statistics expert at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Texas Tribune. “There are a lot of deaths, probably, in Texas that were never identified as COVID-related deaths.”

How Texas Could be Undercounting Coronavirus Fatalities

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates Texas saw 824 more deaths than usual from March 22 to April 11 of this year. During the same period, the state reported just 241 coronavirus fatalities.

It’s likely the undercount was greatest at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, when testing was even more difficult to come by than it is now. During those early stages, people with heart disease or other pre-existing conditions could have taken a fatal turn due to undetected infections, and  medical examiners and coroners might not have known to look for signs of COVID-19.

“What really was the cause of death? Was it the cardiac condition or was it the COVID?” asked Angela Clendenin, an epidemiologist and biostatistician at Texas A&M University School of Public Health. “Can we really say that somebody who has a preexisting condition would have had more days, or not?”

Governor Abbott’s Plan to Reopen Texas is Underway

Texas counted its 1,000th coronavirus death last Friday, the same day barbershops, hair and nail salons, and tanning beds across the state resumed operations in accordance with Phase 2 of Governor Abbott’s reopening plan.  Phase 1, which allowed retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to once again open their doors, got underway a week earlier. Gyms and other workout venues, non-essential manufacturing, and offices should be back in business by May 18th, when the third phase begins.

Governor Abbott insists a relatively low death rate and slowing growth of COVID-19 infections – rather than political pressure and a deteriorating economic situation – drove his decision to reopen Texas. But the state’s success in fighting the novel coronavirus is largely the result of social distancing and other measures that are currently being abandoned.

Now that those restrictions are being relaxed, one popular model is predicting that Texas will see hundreds of additional coronavirus deaths over the coming weeks and months.

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