In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, the United States is facing concerning trends as positivity rates spike, with Texas and its neighboring states at the forefront, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As of the week ending August 26, approximately 15 percent of COVID-19 tests across the country came back positive, marking a 1.4 percent increase from the previous week. The five states experiencing the highest test positivity rates, at 20.8 percent, include Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Texas notably drew attention recently with the implementation of a ban on mask mandates.
Following closely behind were Nevada, Hawaii, California, and Arizona, each reporting 16.1 percent of tests returning positive during the same week. In stark contrast, New York, New Jersey, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico maintained lower positivity rates, averaging around 9.6 percent.
These figures emerge amidst a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, driven partly by the emergence of new variants, EG.5 and BA.2.86. During the week ending August 26, there were over 17,000 hospital admissions, marking a 15.7 percent increase from the prior week. Remarkably, COVID-19 hospitalizations remain relatively low in approximately 93 percent of the nation, according to the CDC, and deaths attributed to the virus accounted for 2 percent of the total during the same week.
The data highlights the ongoing challenges posed by the virus, even as the national emergency status and federal mask mandates have ended. Notably, some regions have reintroduced mask mandates temporarily in response to surging cases.
In a recent public appearance, President Joe Biden, who had tested negative for COVID-19, was seen wearing a mask during a ceremony honoring Vietnam veteran Captain Larry Taylor. However, he removed it while delivering remarks. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained that Biden’s actions aligned with CDC guidelines, emphasizing the importance of testing, monitoring for symptoms, and wearing masks when necessary.
The CDC recommends individuals exposed to the virus wear high-quality masks indoors in public spaces or when close to others, in conjunction with testing and symptom monitoring, for a period of 10 days. These measures underscore the ongoing need for vigilance as the nation navigates the complexities of the pandemic.