AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Health officials reported 4,319 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals for treatment Monday, the most since 4,422 patients were hospitalized on Aug. 28.
Texas had an estimated 82,930 active cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a tally up by almost a third since 64,431 active cases were reported a month ago, on Sept. 20, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported.
Besides 2,273 new coronavirus cases reported Monday when many weekend cases still were not tallied, 2,440 previously unreported cases were reported, bringing the total increase to 4,713. That brings the total reported Texas cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 to 828,527, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
The true number of cases in Texas is likely higher though because many people haven’t been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The state reported just eight fatalities from COVID-19 Monday, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 17,022.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
In Houston, schools in the state’s largest school district resumed in-person classes Monday for the first time since campuses doors were closed in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
About 80,000 of the school district’s 190,000 students were back on campuses, where they were required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Movement within campuses was also going to be limited during the school day and only essential visitors would be allowed inside, said Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan.
District officials have worked to put necessary safety protocols in place, purchased needed supplies, and relied on science and data to provide a safe environment and address any concerns teachers and others might have, Lathan said.
“We want to do what we can to make sure our staff and our students are safe,” Lathan said.
The first six weeks of classes in the current school year for Houston school district students were held online. Those children who chose not to return to campuses on Monday will continue to attend classes virtually and will have a chance after every six-week grading period to change their minds.
When the pandemic started, the school district determined that about 35% of its students lacked internet service at home and about 40% to 45% lacked home computers, Lathan said. Since then, the district has worked to provide 110,000 laptops and computers and 36,200 internet hotspots to students.
Also Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city will be using $4.1 million of federal funding from the CARES Act to pay for police overtime to deal with a spike in violent crime that’s taken place since the start of the pandemic.
The CARES Act is the financial assistance package created in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Violent crime is up 11% in Houston this year, mirroring a rise in crime in other major U.S. cities since the start of the pandemic, Turner said.
Starting Monday and through the end of the year, an additional 110 officers will patrol six parts of the city that dealing with rising crime, Turner said.
“What’s happening now with the rising crime across the country is related to this pandemic crisis and all of the challenges that people are facing on so many different levels,” Turner said.