The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reported a reduced number of active coronavirus cases in Collin County from 4,638 to 81 on Tuesday, a 98 percent drop.
On Wednesday, the total number of active cases increased to 308.
DSHS says that the large reduction in active cases was due to a backlog in cases.
“The change has to do with the large number of older test results that have recently been reported by laboratories,” Chris Van Deusen, the director of media relations for DSHS, told The Texan.
“Collin County had been calculating the number of active cases based on when those test results were received, and that meant those older cases were included – even though they were old enough that the person would have recovered by now. DSHS is working with the county to provide case numbers based on when the person was actually tested, so the older cases are no longer skewing that active number.”
A news release from the county stated that a backlog of 1,175 cases were added on August 14, “almost 10 times the average daily new case count.”
DSHS has had numerous other problems in reporting COVID-19 data after they upgraded their system at the beginning of August to be able to process more cases, which resulted in the positivity rate skyrocketing before plummeting.
The drastic change to the number of active cases in Collin County comes after the county commissioners court published a disclaimer on their COVID-19 dashboard, warning residents that they “have no confidence in the data” provided by DSHS.
Among the concerns of the commissioners court, County Judge Chris Hill told The Texan last week that they knew “the number of active cases is inflated because there are people on that list who are recovered and yet have not been marked as recovered, so they are still marked as active.”
At their meeting on Monday, the commissioners court reiterated their concern about the data, estimating that there were likely about a quarter as many active cases as reported.
Hill said during meeting that he had received a letter from DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, which read that “DSHS remains committed to working with local governments, including Collin County,” but said that Collin County leadership “may be standing in the way of accurate data being given to DSHS and consequently standing in the way of accurate data being reflected on the county and state website.”
According to Hill, he followed up the letter with a phone call to a DSHS official, who said that they were concerned about the court’s consideration of taking down the dashboard in its entirety and did not want them to take that action at Monday’s meeting.
The court did not choose to take down their dashboard, but amended their website disclaimer to read that the county “lacks confidence in the data,” and that “DSHS officials have agreed to immediately redirect resources to correct the issue, but have not provided a timeline on when their reports will be corrected.”
“Just remember, this is just a single county,” said Commissioner Cheryl Williams. “It just brings into question everything that is on their dashboard.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.