Texas health officials have acknowledged reporting “significantly overstated” active COVID-19 case counts, after Collin County commissioners said earlier this week they had “zero confidence” in the Chinese coronavirus data reported by the state.
Now the county is pushing state officials to fix their mistake “immediately.”
Collin County Judge Chris Hill said Monday he was “100 percent certain” the numbers reported by the Texas Department of Public Health Services and its Texas Health Trace tracking system are inaccurate because the state is not clearing all recovered cases from active case totals.
“After a careful review of the case data, Collin County officials believe there are fewer than 1,000 active COVID-19 cases in the county at this time, rather than the 4,636 active cases currently reported by Texas DSHS.
“Collin County officials have been actively working together with DSHS officials, who concur that the active case count for Collin County is significantly overstated and have agreed to immediately redirect resources to correct the issue. DSHS officials have not provided a timeline on when their reports will be corrected.”
On top of the state’s failure to track and report recoveries, commissioners learned Monday DSHS had dumped over a thousand Collin County cases dating back as far as March into their reporting system, creating a false spike and further undermining confidence in the data. DSHS blamed a backlog of test results they say is now being cleared.
“I have zero confidence in the numbers that are presented on our dashboard,” Hill said at Monday’s commissioners court meeting. “I refuse to report these numbers as if I have confidence in them.”
“How do I guide us through a disaster declaration when I have 100 percent certainty that the numbers I’ve been given are false,” he added.
Commissioners voted Monday to add a disclaimer to the county’s local COVID reporting page, which pulls case numbers from DSHS data:
Warning: Collin County is providing COVID-19 numbers and data as a convenience to our residents. However, because we have been made aware of inaccuracies in the Department of State Health Services’ reporting, we must advise residents that Collin County has no confidence in the data currently being provided to us.
“Quite frankly, the citizens of Texas and the people of Collin County deserve to have accurate information, and the situation we are now in is unacceptable,” Commissioner Susan Fletcher wrote in a message to constituents explaining the changes.
DSHS began tracking and reporting Collin County coronavirus cases on June 1. Other large counties and metropolitan areas with public health departments have continued to handle their own case tracking and reporting—including San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in Bexar County; Corpus Christi-Nueces County Health District; the City of El Paso in El Paso County; and Dallas, Denton, Harris, and Travis counties.
Inconsistent reporting among counties has further muddled the state’s data.
Collin County officials have raised questions about the reliability of data reported by DSHS throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
Despite a continuous string of mistakes, the state has continued to stand by its data reporting.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he has “greater confidence today than I’ve ever had” that the state is reporting accurate results.