Texas Gov. Abbott says record-high COVID-19 positivity rate may be due to decreased demand in testing

Nearly 1 in 4 people are testing positive for novel coronavirus in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott in McAllen on August 4, 2020. (Office of the Governor, KSAT)

While COVID-19 hospitalization trends have been improving in Texas, one warning metric that officials are tracking still stands out — the positivity rate.

In August, the percentage of positive coronavirus tests has soared to 24.5%, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, the highest since the pandemic began in March.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday was asked about the positivity rate while speaking to reporters and said that the state’s health department has a data team investigating the increase. Abbott said officials have already identified a few reasons the rate increased in August.

“We’re not having enough people step forward to be tested as we did before,” Abbott said.

In July, Texas was conducting upwards of 67,000 tests a day. But in August, that number has dipped drastically. Only 28,000 tests were conducted on Tuesday.

Besides a decline in demand, Abbott said there have been fewer of the state’s surge testing sites in hot spots across Texas this month.

With more surge testing sites planned for Houston this week, Abbott said he expects the number of tests conducted to come back up in the coming days.

The governor assured the public that the state still has “abundant testing capacity.”