Coryell County sees sudden spike in COVID case numbers on Monday
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Where COVID-19 is concerned locally, it’s been all about the numbers and case trends.
Coryell County receives a daily case report of those numbers from Region 7 (PHR7) of the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
On Thursday, Coryell County Judge Roger Miller was notified by PHR7 that COVID-19 cases for Coryell County had been under reported for the past few months.
His office issued a press release on Friday that approximately 2,477 cases haven’t been reported on the data lists provided daily by PHR7 (Public Health Region 7).
Most of those cases were during December 2020 and January 2021.
A liaison officer with PHR7 told Judge Miller that it was because of a backlog in the internal database, due to the number of new cases corning in and amount of time it takes to verify, remove duplicates and enter the information. With that rectified, it caused the large increase in the total number of cases on Monday, Feb. 1.
Of these approximately 2,477 under-reported cases, any cases over two weeks old will be flagged and should not show up on the DSHS Dashboard as active cases, according to the PHR7.
On Monday afternoon, the state's tally of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed to 6,787, with 1,033 active cases. The total case count also includes the inmates housed within the TDCJ correctional units in Coryell County. As of press time Monday, neither the City of Copperas Cove had released updated case numbers.
Judge Miller’s office included an emailed response from the judge to Dr. Sharon Melville, the director of PHR7, as part of Friday's press release.
“Your staff is proposing to increase our County’s case count by 85 percent in one day ... almost doubling our total number of cases to date. Although I am sympathetic to the challenges you and your staff have faced in dealing with this unprecedented event, the solution you are about to implement erodes the foundation of trust local governments have tried to maintain with their citizens,” Miller wrote.
“Had we been aware of just how serious our increase in infection rate was, we might have been able to take steps to lessen that rate. Someone could have - should have - informed us ... But that wasn’t the case. We were left clueless and in the dark. Ultimately, we are being left to
explain a situation for which we have no real explanation.”
Miller told Dr. Melville that events were allowed to occur “that almost certainly would not have been allowed had we known the severity of our COVID infections. How many hundreds of cases could have been prevented? We will never know the answer to that question. But I do know that we allowed a County Youth Fair to take place which drew thousands of participants and attendees.”
In his Friday press release, Judge Miller said that Coryell County has been, and will continue to be, open, honest, and transparent when reporting COVID cases within the County.
“Data lists provided by PHR7 are reviewed daily for inaccuracies and completeness. Currently, PHR7 is attributing 40 cases to Coryell County where the address is in another county. There are an additional 46 cases being attributed to Coryell County where no address, or an unidentifiable address, is listed. Those 86 cases, along with the 128 ‘Probable’ cases are not being reported by the County.
“When you look at the numbers on the County website, I can tell you with complete confidence those are confirmed, verifiable numbers; nothing over inflated and nothing hidden.”
He encouraged all citizens not to overreact to this news.
“Although it is concerning, and the inaccurate data skewed some of the decisions that have been made, it is not something that is going to cripple the County. County government functions remain open and accessible to the public, other than most in-person Court proceedings. In-person Court proceedings have been suspended until at least March 1, 2021.”
As of Thursday, Jan. 28, Coryell County was reporting a total of 2,695 cases which does not include cases of inmates in Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities. Active cases numbered 379 at that point.
According to DSHS, there were a total of 4,386 cases in Coryell County, with an estimated 316 active cases. However, DSHS includes TDCJ inmate cases in those numbers.
Last week’s City of Copperas Cove update showed a total of 1,620 cases, of which 424 were still considered active. This week’s update had not been received as of press time Monday.
In week eight of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Coryell Health is slated to receive another 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The Coryell Health Medical Clinic in Gatesville has been booking appointments to receive the vaccine for Phase 1a and Phase 1b eligible recipients. All scheduling for the vaccine has been done online, with Coryell Health accepting names and information for a waiting list. The link for Coryell Health can be found at https://app.blockitnow.com/consumer/coryell-health. Coryell Health email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over in Bell County, its public health district is also booking appointments online for the vaccine. However, bookings are “paused pending receipt of additional vaccine,” according to that website, https://www.bellcountyhealth.org/covid-19_vaccine/index.php. Bell County is also accepting names for a waiting list, and also contacts individuals for same-day appointments if there are any vaccines left available toward the end of the day.