Texas surpasses 9,000 virus deaths as testing remains low

Texas surpassed 9,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Wednesday while testing again dropped to the lowest levels since June, and infection rates hit another record.

The state on Wednesday reported 324 additional deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed new deaths added from COVID-19 over the past week alone to more than 1,600.

Some of those deaths occurred in July, when Texas began waiting on death certificates before adding to the total number of fatalities. Officials in regions hard hit this summer by the virus, including Houston and the Rio Grande Valley, say trends are improving after weeks of overcrowded hospitals and alarming rises in new confirmed cases.

Testing demand has also lowered. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Tuesday that the number of individuals showing up for tests has dropped by 40%, which reflects trends nationwide. 

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said “surge testing" in hot spots earlier this summer has also seen a decline, falling Tuesday below a rolling seven-day average of 29,000 for the first time since June.

The fewer tests have led to the seven-day positivity rate climbing to more than 24%. The Texas Department of State Health Services did not respond Wednesday to questions about the decrease in testing numbers.