Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Kerr County no longer considers positive coronavirus results reported by Peterson Health as "confirmed active cases" and will only rely on numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

So, how many active COVID-19 cases does Kerr County have? Only three, according to Dub Thomas, the county's emergency management coordinator. 

Since Monday, Peterson Health has reported 19 new cases of the virus and more than 20 since last Wednesday, which would likely invalidate the county's mask exemption — except that's not a real number, according to county officials.

"The numbers could get confusing if I start adding up PRMC numbers to DSHS numbers before they are entered into the DSHS system," Thomas said in an email to The Kerrville Daily Times.

At Peterson Regional Medical Center there are four people hospitalized with the virus.

When it comes to what to report, Thomas says that he can only count on the state, and it says three. That's unless you look at the state's public facing website used to track the virus, and it says there are 152 active cases.  

Without providing specifics, Thomas said that the state has criteria to determine if a case is active or not. 

"DSHS reviews all those cases to make sure they meet certain criteria to be an active case," Thomas said in the email. "Active cases become recovered cases based on a 10-day to 14-day recovery period."

Just how long it takes DSHS to consider a case active remains unclear. Since the start of the pandemic, Texas has struggled to provide accurate numbers via its various platforms run by DSHS. 

For instance, today's Texas COVID-19 dashboard says 590 people from Kerr County have tested positive — that number hasn't moved in two days. County officials have previously cautioned against relying on data from the state's public facing COVID-19 data, because it's often delayed. Instead, they've argued — via press releases — that data from Region 8 was more accurate, but it was Region 8 that reported the information incorrectly on this latest change in numbers. 

Earlier this week, DSHS admitted it had undercounted more than 3,000 cases, including as many as 144 in Kerr County, among counties in the department's Region 8. The county blamed that backlog on the state not properly counting cases among private physician offices. 

So, who to believe? 

Peterson Health officials said they're sticking with their numbers for now and not reporting the state's total number of cases until they have a better understanding of the data that the state released on Monday. As of Thursday night, Peterson Health said 490 people have tested positive for the virus in Kerr County since April 1. 

Of those 490, 19 have tested positive since Monday. 

Last week, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly, without consulting Peterson Health and other community stakeholders, asked for and got an exemption to the state's mask mandate because the county was under 20 cases. Thomas told Kelly and members of the Kerr County Commissioners Court that the county was under the threshold and could ask for an exemption. 

The catch is that once the county goes over the 20 active case threshold the exemption is invalidated. In turn, the county would have to have no positive cases for 30 days before it could apply for an exemption again. The county has had positive cases almost daily since April.

(10) comments

Mary Lou SHELTON

GENE here: we have at least two elected officials that openly believe in various conspiracy theories. probably more still in the closet. I am still waiting for all that secret info they have found to be released.

Cindy Gabriel

Good reporting Kerrville Times!

Kimberlee Keller

Umm...yeah. I choose to believe Peterson as I feel that they are "fudging" their numbers to keep the mask order from happening. Shame on them for putting "freedom of choice" over keeping people safe.

James WESSELING

It appears that our county commissioners need a state political spin to get a confirmed case. I will pass on that concept and put my faith in Peterson Health. Friday we had another seven "confirmed" Peterson cases, giving us 26 for the week. Is that enough for you Dub? There are probably more from other testing sources. Putting commerce in front of the health of it's citizens is a bad idea and will get worse. Remember this when voting in November.

Sonia Bruton

It is insane for the county to not acknowledge that they lifted the mask mandate way to prematurely. We are going to continue to see a rise in cases because they are in a hurry to get back to business a usual. Very sad that they are not putting human life before profit. Very disappointed in our local leaders.

KENNETH NAYLOR

Once again, politicians are not giving a D____ about our health and well being, and when Kerr County has a disproportionate number of seniors. Sadly, this county is so plugged into Fox News and not sound science for their direction, and won't be, until people wake up. Isn't it strange to you that if it was so certain that there was minimal risk, our doctors wouldn't be wearing mask and using sanitizer, or having virtual appointments only? Texas is in the sad shape it is because of politics trumping science. (pun sad, but meant)[sad]

Melissa Parish

Of course the county would say that. The mask mandate was just lifted. Unwise decision at best.

fred JEFFRIES

judge Kelly should have yo work in a corvid case ward, then be locked up every night along with the other Kerr county officials...or maybe we should just close PETERSON HOSPITAL SINCE THEY DONT KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON,BETTER YET JUST STOP TESTING...

Larry Hunter

Methinks the county is, using lawyer parlance, something akin to judge shopping. They are looking for data more favorable to their cause - mask exemption.

Alan Pazdernik

r kelly never said he could count

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