By Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - More than 3,978 new cases were reported Friday of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, as well as 123 new COVID-19 deaths, according to Texas health officials.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 also continued to fall with 3,172 beds filled Friday, 74 fewer than the day before.

The trend encouraged Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to loosen restrictions on how many customers restaurant and fitness club could accommodate, although bars remain closed despite pressure from owners and some conservative GOP activists. Texas bars have been shut down since June when a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurred.

Overall, there have been 682,241 confirmed cases reported in Texas since the state began tracking coronavirus cases in early March. Of those, 14,713 COVID-19 cases ended in death, most of them this summer. In all, there have been more 674,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas. Also, the state estimated 66,866 cases were currently active.

The true number of cases is likely higher though because many people haven’t 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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