HOUSTON, Texas — More than 3,000 nursing home residents in Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to newly-released data from the state.
The 3,000 positive tests represent about 4% of the estimated number of Texans living in nursing homes, the Houston Chronicle reported on Saturday. By comparison, about 0.15% of Texas residents have tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19.
Some of those positive tests have occurred in El Paso at Mountain View Health & Rehabilitation, a nursing care facility at 1600 Murchison Road.
“We have had persons associated with our facility test positive for Covid-19. We are working closely with the local heath authority, to determine the full spread of the outbreak,” Mountain View said in a statement, although it did not specify how many confirmed cases there were.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this week ordered coronavirus testing for all Texas nursing home residents and staff after the White House urged governors to do so as deaths mount nationwide.
El Paso Fire Department officials said they were moving swiftly to carry out the governor’s order and were testing all residents and staff at the more than 20 licensed nursing homes within El Paso.
El Paso city and county health officials have not disclosed whether other care facilities in the Borderland have confirmed cases based on results stemming from the new testing mandate. Previously, El Paso’s Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza had noted scattered cases – but no outbreaks – at local facilities.
For some people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But particularly for older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
More than 26,000 residents and staff have died from outbreaks of the virus at the nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to an Associated Press tally based on state health departments and media reports. That is about a third of all 76,000 deaths in the U.S. that have been attributed to the virus.
While nursing home residents in Texas make up around 6% of the state’s positive cases, they account for about 38% of the state’s deaths related to Covid-19, the newspaper reported.
The numbers for nursing homes that the state has released are broken down by region, but advocates and family members have been calling for more detailed information that shows cases by specific facility or at least by county.
“We’d like to see more transparency where the cases are,” said Amanda Fredriksen, associate state director for advocacy and outreach at AARP Texas. “And in seeing more testing going forward, especially as the state continues to open up.”
Texas has 46,999 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus and at least 1,305 deaths linked to it. The true numbers are likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.