covid omicron

Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Guillermo “Memo” Sanchez, was wearing a protective gown and face shield, while working to limit a COVID-19 outbreak.

AUSTIN — One in four COVID-19 tests in Texas are returning positive, the highest positivity rate the state has seen since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, according to state data.

As of Dec. 29, the state reported a seven-day positivity rate of 26.49% for the molecular test. The previous highest positivity rate was 20.43% in January 2021.

The news comes as the omicron variant — which health officials say is more contagious but less severe for the vaccinated than other variants — continues to spread through communities.

“Positivity rates are at all-time highs and cases are climbing close to the peak of September’s surge,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a tweet following the news. “Get fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID.”

Meanwhile, the seven-day positivity rate for antigen tests is 16.49%. The highest rate for these tests was set in July 2020 at 25%. Of the 94,500 tests conducted on Dec. 29, about two-thirds were molecular tests, which are more sensitive than antigen rapid tests.

TDSHS and other state health leaders continue to advocate that individuals get vaccinated and boosted when eligible, as well as implement other health measures like frequent hand washing, wearing masks around others and staying 6 feet apart when possible.

Hospitalizations are on the rise in Texas with more than 5,500 adults and children hospitalized with the disease. The number has nearly doubled over the past month, data shows.

Texas medical professionals said of those hospitalized with COVID-19, the vast majority are unvaccinated.

“We are now dealing with what is essentially vaccine preventable disease.” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, infectious disease specialist with UTHealth Houston/Memorial Hermann. “We would not be seeing this large influx of patients in the hospital if we have higher acceptance of the [vaccines].”

Recommended for you