Ellis County Statement On COVID-19 Reporting Is Confusing

Ellis County COVID-19 reporting
Ellis County COVID-19 Trends 6-23-2020

Ellis County Press Release Says The County Will No Longer Report COVID-19 Cases

Ellis County posted this update on their Facebook page today: On March 17, 2020, The Texas Department of State Health Services Regions 2/3 reported the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in Ellis County. Since then, COVID-19 updates have been reported by DSHS and delivered to our Local Health Authority.

As of today, DSHS has notified the Ellis County Office of Emergency Management of a change in the COVID-19 case reporting structure within DSHS Public Health Regions 2/3.

Due to the increasingly high volume of cases in the region and the transition to a statewide system for contact investigation and contact tracing through the Texas Health Trace (THT) web-based platform, DSHS will no longer be providing the daily COVID-19 case line lists outlining cases within 49 counties across the region. THT will now conduct investigations for COVID cases, rather than DSHS PHR 2/3 epidemiology staff.

DSHS states the THT web-based platform for contact investigation and contact tracing is currently not able to generate county-level reports regarding the number of active cases within each county or municipality, but functionality is continuing to be added.

For residents actively monitoring COVID-19 within Ellis County, the Office of Emergency Management will no longer be able to provide breakdowns of COVID-19 cases by age, gender, and jurisdiction due to this change in case reporting. DSHS recommends using their COVID-19 Texas Data Dashboard which includes cases over time by county and cumulative tests over time by county for future updates, or their interactive map.

Ellis County will continue to provide additional updates as they are received locally. Please remember COVID-19 still exists within our community. It is imperative that residents continue to take precautionary actions to protect public health and prevent further spread of COVID-19. Residents should wear masks while in public, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and practice physical distancing.

In a comment, they later clarified they can report number of cases but will not show demographics of the cases.

What Does This Mean?

Facebook users are responding with concerns ranging from “this is confusing”, to “are they hiding something?” At a time when COVID-19 cases are exploding across the state of Texas, most of us want data, transparent data. Some commented that by no longer providing a breakdown by age, gender and city, it may give others a false sense of security. The general consensus: people are frustrated with the change in reporting.

As of 6/23/2020, Texas DSHS reports there are a total of 539 COVID-19 cases in Ellis County with 19 fatalities. As of 6/22, DSHS is reporting a total of 9,005 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Ellis County. The report also reflects 162 are active cases.