Judge 'concerned' about virus rate in Texas foster care
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas said Friday that she is “concerned" about the high rate of coronavirus infections in the state's troubled foster care system.
Court-ordered monitors say the positive test rate was at 20% in late August, The Dallas Morning News reported.
U.S. District Judge Janis Jack ruled in 2015 that the state foster care system was unconstitutionally broken and ordered sweeping reforms, which have also been partially upheld on appeal. Jack threatened Friday to hold state agencies in contempt for disobeying those orders.
There are nearly 11,000 children in what Texas calls “permanent managing conservatorship." The rate of children testing positive for COVID-19 in the seven days before Aug. 28 was higher than the 12% among all Texans, according to court-appointed monitors.
“I am concerned about that,"' Jack said.
Jamie Masters, commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and State Health Services, told the judge that she was could not explain the higher positivity rate.
“I can’t say why, except for kids in closer proximity to each other? I don’t know," Masters said.
On Friday, Texas reported more than 4,200 confirmed new coronavirus cases and 140 more deaths. More than 13,000 people in Texas have died from COVID-19. The number of people hospitalized with the virus dropped below 4,000 for the first time since June.
The actual number of cases in Texas could be higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
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.
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