COVID-19 update stalled, OEM says state site new cases not updated

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
COVID-19 testing continues at the Grayson County Health Department through the rest of this week. To find out more information about test availability and times, go to Tests recipients will not be charged for the tests.

Things continue to change with regard to the way the state of Texas is reporting COVID-19 related information to the public.

Amid those changes Monday evening, the Grayson County Office of Emergency Management released a report that indicated one more COVID-19 related death of a Grayson County resident. That number went from 32 on recent reports to 33. Grayson County no longer releases any biographical information about the deceased person due to the change in the way the county is handling COVID-19 related information matters.

In addition, the county’s report indicated that there is one case of COVID-19 at the Grayson County Jail.

The report explained that the county can’t release more specific COVID-19 related information at this point due to a lag in information from the state.

A statement issued by the GC Office of Emergency Management said, “Texas DSHS has not updated confirmed case counts for our County since 9/5/2020.

“Our local health department case counts and the State case counts never matched. We discovered some cases were duplicated and some cases were missing. As the numbers grew, we decided the only way to resolve the continuing discrepancies was for the State case count to be the only case count. And, as a result, we could use our small local agency resources to increase PCR testing and to support our schools, hospitals, nursing homes and businesses.”

The statement pointed out that the county relies on the state data to pass along information to the public.

“Unfortunately, because of this Texas DSHS error, no active case data can be published and our county positivity rate cannot be accurately calculated.

“This error has been reported to DSHS. We hope to have corrected information from then tomorrow.

“We know this is a difficult time. We know you need this data to make good decisions. We are pushing to get this corrected with the Texas Department of State Health Services for our community,” the statement concluded.“

Where and How to get tested now

There is still free oral COVID-19 testing going on in a drive through method at the Grayson County Health Department, 515 S. Walnut, in Sherman. To check on testing availability go to The test if free to those tested.

Changes at the state level

Grayson County’s daily report included information from the state about changes that are on the way for the manner in which the state reports COVID positive rates.

The state will now begin reporting two additional measures of the COVID- 19 positivity rate.

The changes are a result of DSHS’s work to enhance the state’s COVID-19 data in partnership with the Governor’s Strike Force.

It said that, “While DSHS will continue to post the data in the form Texans are used to, DSHS will primarily rely on the positivity rate calculated according to when people were tested, the specimen collection date, which provides the most accurate view of the pandemic’s effect over time. Because all test results received will be counted by when the test occurred, the rate for previous days will change as that information becomes more complete, and it will not be skewed by delays in reporting test results to the state.”

The State Department said that enhancements are part of a continuous effort to improve the quality and timeliness of information.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, so must the data we share,“ DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt said. “Our information must provide the clearest possible picture of what is happening now and what has occurred in the past. The trends in this and other data shape our understanding of what to expect in the future.”

The DSHS will post a rate based on when lab results were reported to the state.

“Both new methods will use positive and total molecular test results reported in the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, and be calculated as a seven-day average,” the State Department said. “They will also exclude duplicate or other erroneous lab results. Recent upgrades to NEDSS now allow DSHS to clean up the testing data more quickly to be used in the positivity calculations.”

The state’s former positivity rate used the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases over seven days divided by the number of new molecular test results over the same seven days.

Problems in August

“That method served as a reliable proxy for the overall COVID-19 trend for most of the pandemic. However, an influx of older test results in August caused new cases and new test results to get out of sync, leading to large swings in the positivity rate and the need to reevaluate methods to calculate it.

“The positivity rate by specimen collection date shows a peak in late June and July as Texas saw a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state. The other methods mirror the same overall trend until diverging when the older test results began to be reported in August. DSHS will post all three methods for a time to allow for a continued comparison,” the statement added.

The changes come as more than 600 clinical laboratories and other testing providers, 600 hospitals, 57 local health entities and the eight DSHS public health regions submit data about COVID-19 to DSHS each day. There, the statement said, the information is quickly analyzed and reported to the public to provide the most up-to-date information possible.

Changes in Grayson County

As a result of the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the folks with their boots on the ground in Grayson County tracking the pandemic and helping local entities deal with the event have had to pull back from a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week level to one that sustainable on an ongoing basis.

Active staff monitoring has shifted to a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or on an as needed basis. Situation reports will now only be published Monday through Friday evenings excluding county holidays.

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