KAUFMAN COUNTY, Texas (Editor's Note: inForney.com is working to verify with DSHS and Kaufman County the latest case reports from this week. Additionally, we are working to determine a change, if any, in our COVID-19 reporting format based on data reported to Kaufman County from DSHS, once received.) — The Texas Department of State Health Services has reversed its decision to halt reporting local data to counties in which it serves as the local health authority, this just days after the decision was made.
County and emergency management officials throughout north Texas though, in speaking with inForney.com, say that new reporting came with "significant errors" and, in its current state, is "unusable."
A day after notifying counties they would no longer be disseminating local data, Kaufman County saw a record number of new cases, 116, applied to its daily reporting on the state's COVID-19 dashboard for Wednesday, June 24 — more than quadruple the previous daily record of 26 new cases added on June 10, according to the county's reporting, or triple if you refer to the state's number of 33 new cases that same day.
County judges, health officers, and emergency management coordinators throughout the north Texas region pushed back — arguing they needed local data to continue to make informed and critical local decisions in response to COVID-19. Not only that, they argued DSHS was required by the Texas Health and Safety Code and the Texas Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act to provide that local data to, at minimum, notify first responders who might potentially respond to a residence or patient with a confirmed test result or were under monitoring for COVID-19.
Additionally, officials say the information is critical to their counties' citizens who use the data to inform and make their own personal decisions.
Several county and local health officials, speaking with inForney.com, say this fight for local data reporting isn't new — they saw the same hesitancy from DSHS in reporting local data of a person under monitoring in 2014 after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, traveled to Dallas, Texas, and was diagnosed with Ebola.
inForney.com reached out to DSHS yesterday for comment on this article but, as of press today, had not received a response.
Kaufman County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Howie says the county has not received any updated local case information from DSHS as of Friday morning. An email received by county officials from DSHS on Wednesday night was described as unreadable computer coding or syntax.
In Johnson County, emergency management officials confirm receiving an email with local data but, that data was described as raw data with "significant problems" including data that was not respective to Johnson County, contained instances of duplicated cases, or was missing cases which had previously been confirmed and reported. inForney.com received the same response from other north Texas counties whose officials spoke on background.
Because Kaufman County's local data was unreadable, inForney.com was unable to confirm with county officials if their data contained similar errors, if that data was in turn reported to the state's dashboard, or if any of the errors were represented in the new cases reported on Wednesday.
Wednesday's reporting on the state's dashboard confirmed 490 COVID-19 cases and has remained unchanged in Thursday's and Friday's updates.
As of Friday's update, the Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 dashboard reported that, of the 490 confirmed cases, an estimated 286 patients had recovered, four were reported COVID-19-related deaths, and 200 were estimated active COVID-19 cases — a significant discrepancy in the last reported active case count by the county last week.
Until the local data becomes usable and reportable at the county level, counties which rely on DSHS as their health department, are referring residents to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, here: https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83
Editor's Note: inForney.com is working to verify with DSHS and Kaufman County the latest case reports from this week. Additionally, we are working to determine a change, if any, in our COVID-19 reporting format based on data reported to Kaufman County from DSHS, once received.