Houston coronavirus updates: what you need to know by July 28

Chron.com follows the latest headlines about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects in the Houston area.

11:50 am: AG Paxton issues statement on school closure mandate

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released guidance on reopening schools Tuesday during the pandemic that local health authorities cannot issue sweeping orders to close schools in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID. -19.

On Friday, Harris County and Houston area health authorities ordered all county non-religious public and private schools to delay in-person instruction for the first eight weeks of the 2020-21 school year. The order requires that all school-sponsored events not take place in person and requires districts to submit a written plan that outlines health procedures for when in-person instruction can be safely resumed.

Paxton said in the statement that school officials, not health or city and county officials, should be the ones who decide when and how to open their campuses, saying that state law “does not allow health authorities to issue general quarantine orders. ”

“Our children’s education is a Texas core value and there is no current state order prohibiting the opening of any school,” said Paxton. “While local health authorities may have some authority to close schools in limited circumstances, they cannot issue general orders to close all schools on a purely preventive basis. That decision, legitimately, remains with the leaders of the school system. “

Read the full statement here.

9:30: The latest issues from Houston, Texas

Despite declining numbers in new cases, Texas reported more than 700 new deaths from COVID-19 and now has a total of 5,809 deaths after the Texas Department of State Health Services made a significant change in its data report on Monday.

DSHS is now using death certificate data for its COVID death counts, causing some Texas counties to have dramatically higher counts than others and some counties to have numbers higher than the state figures.

Despite an apparent increase in deaths, the state reports a decrease in new cases and the moving average for new cases. From Sunday to Monday, Texas added 4,331 new cases and now stands at 395,338 total new cases, marking the fifth consecutive day of new case decline, according to data analysis from the Houston Chronicle. The moving average for new cases is now at 7,414.6, marking the eighth consecutive day with a decrease in the moving average. The statewide positive test rate also continues to drop and is now at 13.22 percent.

The Houston region added 1,571 new cases and is now at 94,438 total cases. Harris County experienced an increase of 846 new cases and stands at 66,195 cases total.

AT HOUSTONCHRONICLE.COM: So how bad is COVID-19 in Houston? A guide to reading the data.

Due to a transition in reporting to meet new federal requirements, DSHS continues to report incomplete COVID-19 hospitalization numbers. Only 82 percent of hospitals reported full data to DSHS on Sunday, resulting in the appearance of a drop in hospitalizations. Considering this, the state reported 9,781 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Sunday.

NOTE: The numbers included in this report represent a one-day change in data from Sunday, July 26 to Monday, July 27. It is still unclear how many of the state’s new cases can be attributed to inmates at the Texas Department of Criminal Affairs. Justice. The Houston Chronicle’s analysis of the COVID-19 case data now includes probable and pending cases. This change is based on interviews with multiple public health officials and epidemiologists, as well as in line with CDC reporting guidelines.

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