DSHS Shows 1 Hopkins County COVID-19 Fatality; Local, Regional Officials Report No Knowledge Of Any Hopkins County COVID-19 Deaths
Hopkins County Emergency Management officials at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, reported 1 new COVID-19 case for Hopkins County. Four patients were reported to also be in the COVID-19 unit at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs July 29, but no additional information was available regarding those cases.
While the state COVID-19 dashboard currently shows 1 fatality for Hopkins County, local emergency management officials have received no information regarding any Hopkins County resident dying as a result of COVID-19, according to Hopkins County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Endsley.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission also this week started electronically posting to the state website COVID-19 case counts and deaths by facility name for state supported living centers, state hospitals, and state-licensed nursing and assisted living facilities. One local nursing facility had has had worker who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the July 29 HHS report.
Hopkins County COVID-19 Case, Recovery, Hospital Reports
That brings the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases for Hopkins County since March to 147, with more than half of those cases reported this month.
During the first week of July, 10 new cases had been announced. New cases were reported every day from July 9-18, for a total of 45 additional Hopkins County residents testing positive for COVID-19, with 16 total recoveries. For the week of July 20-26, Hopkins County Emergency Management team reported 27 new cases and 6 recoveries. So far this week (July 27-29), there have been 2 new case and 6 recoveries. That’s 84 new positive COVID-19 cases reported in July in Hopkins County, and 28 recoveries this month.
Of the 147 Hopkins County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-March, 78 have recovered, leaving 69 active cases of COVID-19 in Hopkins County on July 29.
State Fatality Reports
Endsley said after learning of the 3:50 p.m. DSHS/HHS report showing a Hopkins County fatality, local officials did some checking. Their contacts at the regional level also reported they had received no reports of a COVID-19 fatality for Hopkins County, according to Endsley.
“We have no information on any COVID fatality. The state is changing up the way they are report things. I’m not sure if they are having any glitches with the system or not. We have no visual on that whatsoever. The state site has been proven wrong at least 3 times already,” Endsley said.
Endsley refers to at least three other times Hopkins County challenged a state-reported COVID-19 death determination as the patient had other health conditions leading death, although the patient was confirmed positive COVID-19; a second death reported the same weekend was reported by local emergency management officials to have been a duplicate of the first report. At least two additional times a COVID-19 fatality reported for Hopkins County was removed from the state website after a few days and reported by local authorities to have been a “duplicate or error” as well.
This is the first time since Texas Department of State Health Services’ announcement this week that COVID-19 deaths would be identified differently. Cause of death listed on death certificates will be used to determined a COVID-19 death, according to the DSHS news release.
DSHS, in the announcement, noted that this should allow “fatalities to be counted faster with more comprehensive demographic data.” Using death certificates should also ensure consistent reporting across the state and enable DSHS to display fatalities by date of death and provide the public with more information about when deaths occurred. The change, according to DSHS, began July 27.
DSHS, in the release, stated that COVID-19 fatalities were previously counted as they were reported publicly by local and regional health departments, after they received a notification and verified the death. According to DSHS, the length of time that process takes varied by jurisdiction and did not provide timely demographic information on most fatalities.
“A fatality is counted as due to COVID-19 when the medical certifier, usually a doctor with direct knowledge of the patient, determines COVID-19 directly caused the death. This method does not include deaths of people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause. Death certificates are required by law to be filed within 10 days,” according to the July 27 DSHS release
It is unclear if this report was made prior to the start of the new system. The DSHS dashboard was updated at 3:50 p.m. July 29. Totals are “an estimate based on several assumptions related to hospitalization rates and recovery times, which were informed by data available to date. These assumptions are subject to change as we learn more about COVID-19. The estimated number does not include data from any cases reported prior to 3/24/2020.”
Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities
Texas Health and Human Services Commission also this week began releasing by facility the number of total and active cases of COVID-19 among employees and patients in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and state hospitals, and state-supported living centers. The data is 2 weeks behind, however, and data for nursing and assisted living facilities is self-reported, according to the HHSC.
“HHSC has a legal and ethical obligation to protect the private health information of everyone we serve, both in the private facilities we regulate and those we operate,” HHS Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson stated in the release. “We appreciate the guidance from the Attorney General of Texas, which allows us to release this additional data while maintaining important personal privacy protections.”
Data on COVID-19 case counts and deaths, according to HSSC, will be updated on the HHSC website daily on weekdays, no later than 3 p.m.
Data for the state-operated state supported living centers and state hospitals will reflect confirmed cases as of the previous business day.
Because nursing facilities and assisted living facilities self-report data to HHSC, data posted on those facilities will reflect counts 2 weeks prior to the date of posting. This will allow time for data to be reviewed and any clerical or reporting errors to be corrected.
Across the state, there were 12,830 active cases among nursing facilities across the state. Overall, there have been 5,956 nursing facility employees in Texas since March 23 who have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 9,598 Texas nursing home residents across the state were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 as of July 15, including 3,479 patients who have recovered, 1,236 who died and 4,213 active cases on July 15, according to the HHS report.
Of the four nursing facilities in Sulphur Springs, only Sulphur Springs Health and Rehab had only 1 employee who tested positive for COVID-19 as of on July 15, and that case was still considered active on July 15. No patients in any Sulphur Springs nursing home had tested positive for COVID-19 as of July 15, according to the July 29 report.
In assisted living facilities across the state, HHS reported 674 active cases and 1,068 cumulative cases among employees on July 15. Of the 1,194 assisted living facility residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 383 residents had recovered and 179 residents had died, leaving 581 active cases among assisted living facilities across Texas, according to the July 29 HHS report.
Of the three assisted living facilities in Sulphur Springs, none had reported any COVID-19 cases among staff or residents as of the July 15 report, according to the HHS report.