AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — With new cases of the coronavirus and hospitalizations spiking in Texas as winter approaches, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday launched a program to provide small businesses with rapid tests for their employees.
Abbott said the Texas Division of Emergency Management will give local chambers of commerce testing supplies that will be allocated to participating businesses. A similar program for school systems was implemented in October.
“This effective strategy will help us detect and mitigate this virus while ensuring that Texas remains safely open for business,” said Abbott, who said the tests were provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 8,712 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 33 new deaths.
Health officials said Monday that 8,790 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Texas. For several days last week, Texas surpassed a daily count of 9,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients, marking the first time that happened since a deadly summer outbreak.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the state has recorded more than 23,000 deaths, the second highest in the country.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by about 22%, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. The researchers said one in every 294 people in Texas tested positive in the past week.
The true number of infections in Texas is likely higher because many haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.