Coryell County officials refuse to count “probable” cases of COVID-19
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Coryell County released its most recent update for COVID-19 virus cases in the county as of Saturday afternoon and was awaiting another update from the Texas Department of State Health Services as of Monday morning.
As of Saturday’s report, there were 221 positive cases, not including inmates housed at the Texas Department of Corrections facilties within the county.
This includes 140 cases currently active, 77 recovered, and 4 deceased.
According to a report from Coryell County Judge Roger Miller, Texas DSHS Region 7 says there are a total of 232 cases. However, Miller said the county is refusing to count 11 of those cases in the count.
Five cases are out-of-county cases where the county has verified the address as not being in Coryell County, said Miller.
However, the other reason Miler gives is that six of those cases are considered “probable” cases of COVID-19.
“Probables are the state’s way of counting cases that haven’t been tested. Basically it’s a doctor’s opinion,” said Miller. “We had two probables reported in the first four months, and we counted those. But DSHS has added four more probables in the past 2 weeks. We just can’t keep counting unconfirmed cases.”
For example, the viral test conducted at facilities like Coryell Health in Gatesville is a PCR test, for which a sample is then tested in-house at Coryell Health’s lab and returns with either positive or negative result.
At a recent commissioners’ court meeting, the definition of a “probable” case of COVID-19 was presented to the court, as meeting clinical criteria along with “epidemiological linkage” criteria.
This information given to the commissioners was from a handout issued by the Texas DSHS, called “DSHS Surveillance Case Definitions for 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).” According to the handout, the clinical criteria for a “probable positive” include having at least two of the symptoms for covid-19 such as fever, chills, sore throat, change of taste; and at least one of the symptoms to include shortness of breath, cough, or difficulty breathing. The clinical criteria can also include a chest x-ray as performed by a physician.
The “epidemiological linkage” criteria for a “probable positive” includes “one or more of the following exposures in the last 14 days before onset of symptoms, such as close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 disease; close contact with a person with clinically compatible illness and linkage to a confirmed case of COVID-19 disease; or travel to or residence in an area with sustained, ongoing community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
“However, these individuals have not actually had a viral test,” the handout states.
Just residing in or working in a county which is considered an area with “sustained, ongoing community transmission” could warrant a “probable” positive case if an individual presents to the doctor with clinical symptoms. Then, a physician could call it a “probable” case, without a test.
As of Sunday afternoon, Texas DSHS reported a total of 325,030 positive cases, a little more than 1 percent of the state’s 2018 population estimate of 28,702,243.
This includes an estimated 148,136 active cases, with an estimated 172,936 recoveries.
As of Sunday, there were a total of 7,300 new daily cases.
Testing continues to increase in the state, with a total of 3,207,847 tests conducted, which includes a total of 2,932,364 viral tests and 221,259 antibody tests.
In Coryell County, there have been 13,944 tests conducted, and Coryell County ranks number 29 in the state of Texas for conducting tests.
Currently there are 10,592 hospitalized across the state. Locally in Trauma Region L, which encompasses both Coryell and Bell Counties lie, there are 93 hospitalized for COVID-19.
The state’s seven-day testing positivity rate has fallen from an all-time high of 17.49 percent last Thursday, to 15.03 percent on Sunday.
On Monday afternoon, the City of Copperas Cove released its weekly report for confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the city limits.
That total is 115, with 78 active cases, 38 recovered, and two deceased.
Between July 7 and July 19, there have been 19 new cases confirmed within the Copperas Cove city limits, with five in their 20s, three in their 30s, three in their 40s, five in their 50s, two in their 60s, and one female, age not known.
COVID-19 cases in Central Texas*
Bell County 2,640 (1,797 active)
Burnet County 328 (257 active)
Coryell County **221 (140 active, 77 recovered, 4 deceased)
Lampasas County on 103 (40 active)
McLennan County 3,291 (1,298 active)
Williamson County 4,686 (847 active)
*As of 2 p.m. 7/20