Kerr County has once again reversed course in how it reports the number of positive or active coronavirus cases. The move finally revealed the true number of people who have been infected since the start of the pandemic — at least 875.
In turn, the change in reporting from “to be determined” to “active” sent the number of current active cases soaring to 102 in Kerr County.
“In the interest of giving the community a timely and more accurate account of our local COVID-19 numbers, those TBD numbers will be added into the active count every day,” Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator W.B. “Dub” Thomas said.
Even before the county’s course correction, October was proving to be a challenging month for coronavirus containment, and the virus shows no signs of slowing down. On Friday, Peterson Health announced seven new positive cases, but the disruption caused by the virus is starting to be felt.
This week, Peterson has confirmed 34 positive cases with a positivity rate of 11.8%. For the month, 77 people have tested positive for the virus at Peterson with an overall positivity rate of 8.9%. That’s just Peterson, Thomas’ numbers suggest there are nearly 30 cases that are positive from tests outside of the hospital.
As of Friday afternoon, two people are hospitalized at Peterson Regional Medical Center.
At least 11 people who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday were from an unidentified nursing home in Kerrville. On Friday, at least one positive test forced Center Point High School to postpone its football game with Harper High School. Since players are exposed, Center Point also moved to forfeit its next game against Johnson City on Oct. 23.
The county and Peterson Health, which did the testing, has declined to name the nursing home with the 11 new cases. However, that information will eventually be reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is more than two weeks behind in releasing data about outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living centers.
As of Friday, the state had released data through Oct. 2 and reported that there had been six positive cases involving patients among the five Kerrville-based nursing homes. The most recent case was at Waterside Nursing Home.
Kerr County’s move now more closely aligns it with Peterson Health’s reporting of cases. The county had stopped counting Peterson cases because it uses rapid-result antigen testing, which is 90% accurate. However, the state was reluctant to count those as active until further investigation. The state has been backlogged on confirming those cases, leaving a gap in informing the public of the true number of people who tested positive for COVID-19.
“It’s no secret that DSHS is behind in its investigations of COVID cases, but using the DSHS spreadsheet and the good information I get every day from Peterson Regional Medical Center’s Infection Prevention team, I can get a pretty accurate picture of our local case counts,” Thomas said. “It’s not perfect, but I think it’s the best data we have that will allow our local businesses, schools and elected officials to make decisions on how best to mitigate the virus.”
The new number of total cases is broken down this way by the county:
• 102 active cases
• 760 recoveries
• 13 deaths
• 2 people hospitalized, which count as active
The accounting for the number of cases means that Peterson’s total was 612 positive cases, but it did not include 142 cases that the state had misreported in June and July. The additional 121 cases are from outside of the Peterson system.
All of this comes as Texas and the U.S. continues to wrestle with a virus that shows no signs of slowing down. Texas reported 5,682 cases on Friday — the most since Aug. 26. There were also 95 new deaths reported.
Across the country, new cases per day are on the rise in 44 states, with many of the biggest surges in the Midwest and Great Plains, where resistance to masks and other precautions has been running high, and the virus has often been seen as just a big-city problem.
Deaths per day are climbing in 30 states.
“I see this as one of the toughest times in the epidemic,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious-disease specialist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. “The numbers are going up pretty rapidly. We’re going to see a pretty large epidemic across the Northern Hemisphere.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said Americans should think hard about whether to hold Thanksgiving gatherings.
“Everyone has this traditional, emotional, warm feeling about the holidays and bringing a group of people, friends and family, together in the house indoors,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit of doing that.”