The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is reporting 422 total COVID-19 cases in Matagorda County, which is an increase of 23 cases in its Friday, July 17 report.
The total number of recovered cases is now reported to be 225, which is an increase of 31 from the last report.
The total number of DSHS reported active cases in Matagorda County is now 192. More COVID-19 health information may be found on the Matagorda Regional Medical Center website at https://www.matagordaregional.org/covid19
Again, these are far different numbers than what was previously reported by county health officials but a recent change to go with DSHS numbers was made to clear up any confusion with the different numbers being posted by the county and the state.
“We are going to have to account for the change in numbers somehow,” said Matagorda County Public Information Officer Mitch Thames. “We know there is going to be a two-week period where our numbers and their numbers are not going to jive yet.
“We knew we were going to have to switch over the DSHS numbers but had to figure out when was the right time to switch,” Thames said.
Thames said in the beginning of the pandemic, the county made the decision to monitor it themselves because of the low numbers seen early in the process.
“The whole idea in the beginning was we were trying to do tracing and just a minute-by-minute understanding of the spread,” Thames said. “Back in the beginning, we could pinpoint age groups, male and female and could tie cases back to an event in trying to control the virus.
“Right now, there is not an age group that is not affected,” Thames said. “It is changing by the hour.”
One area that has raised questions in the community is now the death figures have gone from 11 to now five.
“We still have 11 deaths contributed to COVID-19, the state just needs to catch up,” Thames said.
Thames said he first believed the state was behind on its figures was because they were understaffed but now, he has learned that the state triple checks every positive case reported to make sure it is not a previously reported positive that might be positive again so that it is not counted twice.
“We don’t have the time and staff to triple check any of the reported numbers,” Thames said. “Other counties with their own health departments have the time and staff to do those types of checks and that is why they can report their numbers at a faster pace.”
Thames said the county’s numbers faced scrutiny from the public since they didn’t match the DSHS numbers posted on their website.
“I just want the EOC to be accurate in our reporting of the figures,” Thames said. “I don’t question the 521 figures yet, but the doctors have no legal requirement to give us the numbers that they get. They do have a legal requirement to give numbers to DSHS. Our doctor’s offices have been wonderful but they are being overwhelmed.
“I don’t want the EOC to become part of an inaccurate count,” Thames said. “These numbers are coming from everywhere.”
Thames said a lot of the Matagorda County residents have been visiting the out of county free testing sites.
“When they call me and say they need a free test, I look up the closest site and send them to it,” Thames said.
Thames said there are also some companies that are selling at-home testing kits that are then sent to an out of state lab and the results are never reported to local officials.
“This lab will report the results to DSHS and that is a path outside of what we control,” Thames said.
When new cases are reported in the county, medical staff then have to work on these cases to check up on these new patients. Thames said when the report was seven to 10 cases, the medical staff had no issues but with 30 to 60 cases being reported, it becomes a bigger burden on the staff and takes them away from treating patients in their medical settings.
“They had to go through this volume of cases and verify them before we could report them to the public,” Thames said.
With DSHS in the process, all of the numbers are triple checked before being released to the public to make sure false positives or second positive cases are not reported again.
Thames said the DSHS numbers will eventually catch up with the previously reported 521 positive cases in the county.
“I feel very confident that we have 521 positive cases in Matagorda County,” Thames said. “The only difference between what we previously reported and what DSHS is reporting is that DSHS has not triple checked all the recent cases that were reported.”
Also, some doctors have conducted blood tests and have reported patients to be COVID positive but the state does not recognize blood tests as a proper COVID-19 test.
“There are too many variables out there right now,” Thames said. “When it comes down to it, what is more important, accuracy or timeliness? They are both important but what is more important. I don’t want to pass out inaccurate information. We know we are going to take a bullet over this and it’s going to be brutal but it will take two weeks for DSHS to catch up with the numbers we have been reporting.”