Texas Medical Center adds COVID-19 positivity rate to publicly reported dashboard

Houston-based Texas Medical Center is now publishing metrics on COVID-19 reproduction rate, new COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates across its health system, according to a report from the Houston Business Journal.

The health system has tracked these metrics for months, but just began releasing the information publicly to provide a clearer picture of how the pandemic is spreading through the community, according to TMC President and CEO Bill McKeon.

The data will also help illustrate when the virus is under control enough to return to some normal activities, such as in-person school. Houston needs a test positivity rate below 5 percent for two weeks before kids could return; the current positivity rate is 10.5 percent.

Mr. McKeon said the situation in Houston has improved compared to June and July, when more COVID-19 patients were seeking treatment and needed ICU beds.

"These metrics are really about a vision to the future, and it could be a future that's here in two months if we continue our vigilance," Mr. McKeon said. "You have to almost walk before you run — if you can't get someone to wear a mask and understand why that's important, then getting to spread rates on R-values are really hard to communicate to our communities."

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