On Wednesday, July 15, the Atascosa County Emergency Management Office released an update on their Facebook page about the amount of COVID-19-related deaths being reported on a daily basis.
“We’ve received a lot of messages, comments and questions regarding [this],” the update said. “Today, we spoke with a representative from the Texas Department of State Health Services regarding this very issue. We were told that when it comes to reporting COVID 19 deaths, it is probably the most difficult thing for them to report for a few reasons. We will lay them out here as best as we can for your understanding.”
The reasons are as listed below:
1. First and foremost, there has been a backlog of reporting cases because of how much testing is going on, how overloaded the labs are and how long it takes for information to go through the system.
2. Secondly, the Atascosa County Emergency Management Office was told that when someone dies who has tested positive for COVID-19, either before or after their passing, they are only reporting deaths where COVID-19 was the primary cause of death. If someone had an underlying condition where there were complications from the coronavirus, then this would not count toward the reported number of COVID-19-related deaths.
3. They were also told that it can take quite a while for a death certificate to be filed with the state and then for vital statistics to disseminate to the DSHS for COVID-19 reporting. The representative stated it could even take up to three to four weeks, or more. On July 15, the DSHS caught up on 28 deaths in our region and, still, Atascosa County was reported to only have two deaths at the time where COVID-19 was the primary cause of death.
“We understand that this can seem suspicious, but we are doing all we can to be transparent with the reports we are getting from the DSHS, and we do not want to alter the numbers in any way,” the update said. “We will continue to field your questions and respond with the knowledge we have, and should we not know the answer, we will contact the people who do and report back. Thank you for your patience with us through this time. We hope to move through it soon as we’re sure you all do also.”
As of press time on Tuesday evening, the DSHS reported Atascosa County has a total of 442 cases with 53 confirmed active, 386 recovered and three deaths.