The state’s system for reporting coronavirus cases to Guadalupe County has some officials speaking out.
Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher stated his frustration with state officials’ reporting procedures on the COVID-19 situation in the county during the regular meeting of commissioners court on Tuesday.
During an update from Guadalupe County emergency management coordinator Patrick Pinder on the pandemic, Kutscher said the Texas Department of State Health Services’ data is “not accurate.”
“We look at these numbers, everybody gauges what they’re going to do for the day based on the charts we’ve been seeing,” he said. “They’re not accurate.”
Weekly, Pinder presents the court with an update of numbers DSHS reports to the county regarding active cases, recoveries, deaths and more. Last week, the state agency added a category called “To Be Determined.”
To be determined cases include people in the county who are not symptomatic, have had no epidemiological trace to a positive-tested COVID-19 person, and who have not received a test, Pinder said. DSHS reviews people categorized to be determined and decides if they meet certain criteria, he said.
If they meet the criteria, those people are moved to the active category. If they don’t, they’re removed entirely from the chart Pinder’s office keeps.
“Those numbers are becoming less relevant every time they’re on a website, (or) the paper reports them,” Kutscher said. “It doesn’t make any sense to say the person who (isn’t showing symptoms) and hasn’t had the test ... is to be determined.”
Pinder gave commissioners a rundown of the data he received from the Department of State Health Services.
In Guadalupe County as of Tuesday morning and according to DSHS, there were 2,157 reported cases, 38 active cases, 157 probable, 42 deaths, 2,040 recovered and 37 to be determined. The number of official deaths DSHS has reported to the county has remained at 42 for about three weeks, the emergency manager said.
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center has continued to report caring for one patient, a figure that has remained about the same in recent weeks.
In terms of where the reported active cases are in the county, Pinder said the section of New Braunfels in Guadalupe County reported six cases, Cibolo reported eight, Seguin reported six, the Guadalupe County section of Schertz had eight, Marion had two, Selma none and the unincorporated area of the county reported an additional eight active cases.
However, DSHS has more in store for the county, Pinder said.
“It’s changing (Wednesday),” he said. “I have a press conference with DSHS (Wednesday) and all of this is going to change again.”
The meeting with the state will include county judges and emergency managers, Pinder said. They will discuss the changes and then release updated numbers, he said.
Meanwhile, Guadalupe County previously recorded improving numbers leading some officials to consider trying to end mandatory use of facial coverings in public. Gov. Greg Abbott’s order requiring the use of face masks allows for counties that have fewer than 20 active cases to opt out and go without the masks.
It seemed Guadalupe County was inching closer to the 20 cases, but that all could go out the window with DSHS’s expected changes.
“Everybody wants to see everything open up,” Kutscher said. “It makes it challenging to even consider that when we see cases go back up.”
Everyone is tired of dealing with COVID-19 and people are over 2020, he said. Guadalupe County residents and visitors are going to have to take it upon themselves to make things right, Kutscher said. That means protecting themselves and staying away from others when they feel sick, he said, adding that it was his opinion that common sense could go a long way in helping stop the spread of the disease.
“We should put less importance and less weight on these numbers than has been put on these numbers in the past,” Kutscher said. “It’s hard to make decisions for every person in Guadalupe County based off data that we know is not accurate.”