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COVID-19 In DFW Aug. 16-20: State Backlog Sends County Case Reports Soaring

Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, sixth-grader Salih Tas wears a mask as he has his temperature checked by a teacher during a STEM summer camp at Wylie High School Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Wylie, Texas.
Associated Press
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, sixth-grader Salih Tas wears a mask as he has his temperature checked by a teacher during a STEM summer camp at Wylie High School Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Wylie, Texas.

Texas DSHS experienced a backlog in reporting positive COVID-19 case numbers sending daily reports from local counties skyrocketing this week.  

The agency says the is due to "coding errors" and is beginning to be resolved through a recent system upgrade in their reporting system.

Get the latest news from our COVID-19 Live Updates page.

Thursday, Aug. 20

Dallas County Reports 308 New Cases 

There are 308 additional cases, bringing the total to 66,772 after the state backlog of cases. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the deaths today are a reminder that the virus can be deadly for anyone: 

“Today we announce three deaths, one of which was a man in his 30’s with no underlying conditions, a reminder that COVID-19 is a serious illness for everyone and can be deadly for anyone. We announced 308 cases today including 204 cases from the backlogged cases (June/July) that are being lost in the State’s electronic laboratory reporting system and 104 recent cases.” 

He also encouraged those who get tested to isolate themselves and notify anyone that has been in close contact if they test positive: 

“With the continued problems at the state, if you get tested for COVID-19, it’s very important to follow all CDC guidance and isolate from everyone if you believe you have the virus until you get your test results. If you test positive, you should report the fact that you have COVID-19 to anyone that has been a close contact.”

Three deaths have been reported today:

  • A Dallas man in his 30s. 
  • A Mesquite woman in her 60s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 70s. 

151 New Cases In Denton County 

An additional 151 cases brings the total to 8,841. There have been 177 newly-recovered cases, increasing the countywide recovery total to 6,158. 

Denton County Public Health is providing a free drive-thru testing center at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, 1641 W. Hebron Parkway on Aug. 25. Appointments start at 8 a.m. and pre-registration is required. 

Eligible community members include those who’ve had symptoms in the past seven days, essential employees, those 60 years and older and those who’ve been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. All community members must call to pre-register for testing at 940-349-2585.

Collin County Announced 44 New Cases 

There are 44 additional cases, bringing the total to 10,451 after the county reported a state backlog of cases. There have been 98 deaths in the area due to the virus. 

231 New Cases In Tarrant County 

Another 231 cases in the area raises the total to 39,053. There have been 478 total deaths and 32,129 people who have recovered from the virus in the area. 

Some Denton Students Will Return To In-Person School Next Week 

Students at risk of falling behind in their studies will have to return to Denton schools next week.

The Denton Record Chronicle reports the district made the change because of a Texas Education Agency requirement for schools to provide space for special education students and those with internet connectivity issues.

Parents in the district said they believed all students would take classes online as the semester began.

The majority of students will do so remotely until September 4.

The one hundred students per campus that are returning will still take classes online, but will have access to teachers if needed.

Padre Island National Seashore Set To Reopen

Officials say Padre Island National Seashore's scheduled to reopen to the public Thursday. 

That's as repairs continue on damage from Hurricane Hanna.

A statement from rangers said the public will have access to most of the park — the North and South beaches, the Bird Island Basin day-use area and boat ramp, as well as Malaquite beach.

Developed campgrounds at Malaquite and Bird Island Basin remain closed. But primitive camping is allowed on the North and South beaches.

Wednesday, Aug. 19

Dallas County Reports 399 New Cases, 4 Confirmed Deaths 

There are 399 additional cases, bringing the total to 66,464. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the state backlog of cases increased today’s daily case count. However, he noted that the daily case and death counts show the “overall trend is a gradual decline”: 

“Today we have 399 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, 44 of which are very old cases from April, May and June that were lost in the State’s system. We are also reporting five deaths (one probable), ranging in ages from a person in their 40s up to people in their 80s.” 

Five deaths were reported today, including 4 confirmed deaths and one probable death: 

  • A DeSoto woman in her 40s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 70s. 
  • A DeSoto woman in her 70s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 80s. 
  • A DeSoto woman in her 80s. 

106 New Cases In Denton County 

An additional 106 cases in the area raises the total to 8,960. There have also been 142 newly-recovered cases, increasing the countywide recovery total to 5,981. 

The county said due to a state reporting backlog, it has received over 800 positive tests so far that have been older than a week. Moving forward, Denton County Public Health will not provide the positivity rate.

Tarrant County Reports 346 New Cases 

There are 346 additional cases, bringing the total to 38,822. The county reported 16 deaths, 10 from August, five from July and one from June. All of the patients had underlying health conditions except a Bedford resident.

46 New Cases In Collin County 

Another 46 cases in the county raises the total to 10,412 after the county reported a state backlog of cases. There have been 95 deaths and 5,635 people who have recovered from the virus in the area.

Tarrant County Deals With COVID-19 And West Nile Virus 

As it deals with COVID-19, Tarrant County's also contending with West Nile Virus.

Tarrant County Public Health director Vinny Taneja yesterday reported seven new cases for a total of nine

“What we're finding a little concerning is that we're only seeing the severe form of the illness, and the explanation that we have is that the milder version, might be something that people are missing,” he said. “They might be getting a headache and a fever, go to a COVID testing site, get tested negative, go home, not seek healthcare and then get over it, so it's probably being underreported.”

A Tarrant County resident died from West Nile last month.

Taneja says the health department's increased the frequency and radius of mosquito spraying in the county. 

'We’re Being Treated As Guinea Pigs': Faculty Members Fear In-Person Return To Texas Universities

The July memo was blunt. Students at Sam Houston State University had been promised “direct contact” with faculty, and even in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, the Huntsville school needed to deliver, Provost Richard Eglsaer told the faculty.

“Since students pay tuition to have in-person instruction, they are free to opt out of it by choosing the remote option,” Eglsaer wrote. “However, as faculty we are paid to teach in person and therefore the option of entirely remote instruction is not open to us.”

When fall classes resumed on campus, Eglsaer wrote, social distancing would not always be possible, and underlying health risks would not qualify faculty to teach only remote classes.

Students returned to campus this week, and the school will try to remain flexible, accommodating individuals with health risks or high-risk family members, university President Alisa White told faculty in a statement Friday. But she said she wasn't comfortable starting the fall semester without in-person instruction, as faculty had requested. As it reopens, the university is reporting 99 COVID-19 cases among students, faculty and staff.

Read the full story by The Texas Tribune

Tuesday, Aug. 18

Dallas County Reports 787 New Cases After State Backlog

There are 787 new cases in the area, bringing the total to 66,065. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the higher number of cases is due to the state’s reporting backlog: 

“Today we have 237 new COVID-19 positive cases to be reported of people who were tested in August. The State also gave us 550 cases of people whose tests were lost from July and June. We provided a similar breakdown for Sunday and have requested but not received one for yesterday’s numbers.” 

He said despite the reporting errors, he urges residents to follow the science and medical recommendations: 

“It is quite understandable at this point that people would have concerns about computer programs, coding errors, contractors who did not mail things timely and other human errors around testing and reporting; however, the underlying science and the medical recommendations to you and the public are sound, and when employed, are effective around the globe.” 

Ten deaths were reported today: 

  • A Balch Springs man in his 50s. 
  • An Irving woman in her 60s. 
  • A Dallas woman in her 60s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 60s. 
  • A Dallas woman in her 70s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 70s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 70s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 80s. 
  • A Grand Prairie man in his 80s. 
  • A Dallas man in his 80s. 

Denton County Reports Highest Daily Death Count

Denton County Judge Andy Eads said today marks the highest number of deaths reported for the county. The eight deaths reported today include: 

  • A woman in her 70s who was a resident of The Vintage Health Care Center in Denton
  • A woman in her 70s who was a resident of The Vintage Health Care Center in Denton
  • A man over 80 who was a resident of The Vintage Health Care Center in Denton
  • A woman over 80 who was a resident of Frisco
  • A woman over 80 who was a resident of Lewisville
  • A Denton man in his 60s 
  • A Denton woman in her 70s 
  • A Denton man over 80

“The news of these deaths underscore the importance of consistently practicing the public health recommendations to ensure you and your family are safe during this ongoing pandemic,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said. 
There are 157 new cases today, bringing the total to 8,584. 

Collin County Reports 213 New Cases 

Another 213 cases raises the total to 10,379. The county said there have been reporting issues due to the state backlog. There have been 102 deaths and 5,541 people who have recovered from the virus in the county. 

Tarrant County Reports 460 New Cases 

There are 460 additional cases, bringing the total to 38,476. The county reported that 229 of the cases today are due to a state backlog of cases. 

Three deaths were reported, including a Fort Worth woman in her 80s, an Arlington man in his 60s and a man from White Settlement in his 70s. All three patients had underlying health conditions. 

The county now has 462 total deaths and 30,692 people have recovered from the virus in the area. 

Fifth Inmate Dies From COVID-19 At Fort Worth Medical Prison 

A fifth inmate at the women's federal medical prison in Fort Worth has died from COVID-19.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports 56-year-old Wendy Campbell had been at FMC Carswell for five months when she died Saturday.

As of yesterday, the prison reported 533 women had recovered from the virus and eight were still positive.

But current inmates dispute that — one said hundreds of women only recently tested positive.

About 70 inmates filed a potential class-action suit earlier this month. They say FMC Carswell hasn't taken adequate safety measures.

City And County Of Dallas To End Testing Contract 

The city and county of Dallas are ending a coronavirus testing contract.

The Dallas Morning News reports the decision came after an investigation into Honu Management Group’s performance.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the investigation by the Dallas County health department found samples collected at the Honu-run site took up to four days to reach the lab, delaying results by a week.

Parkland Health & Hospital System will now take over local testing. 

Execution Of Death Row Inmate Postponed

Another execution in Texas was postponed after attorneys for the death row inmate raised concerns over the coronavirus spread around the state. 

John Ramirez was scheduled to receive a lethal injection September 9 for the 2004 stabbing death of a convenience store worker in Corpus Christi.

But a state district judge Friday canceled the execution after a motion from attorney Seth Kretzer argued gathering in the execution chamber could pose a health risk.

Six other executions in Texas scheduled earlier this year were postponed because of the outbreak. 

Monday, Aug. 17

1,850 New Cases And 4 More Deaths In Dallas County

Dallas County is reporting 1,850 new cases, bringing the total confirmed case count countywide to 65,278. There have been 829 deaths in the area.

"Once again we have a high number of cases coming in, this time from June, due to a coding error in the State’s electronic laboratory reporting system,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted. "While at this point it is reasonable and understandable for people to be skeptical of the state’s reporting system it is not reasonable to be skeptical of the science that is proving to be effective throughout the world in controlling the spread of COVID-19."

Jenkins urged people to get tested frequently and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guildelines like wearing a mask, continuing the six-feet social distancing, hand-washing frequently and avoiding any indoor activity.

The judge reported the state is working to fix the coding error but in the next coming days residents should expect more backlogged cases or more positive coronavirus case numbers. Those cases are instances where the patient was tested, received their results from the lab, but the information was lost in the state's system and therefore no tracing was done.

Four deaths were reported today:

  • A Dallas woman in her 40s
  • A Dallas woman in her 70s 
  • A Dallas man in his 70s 
  • A Richardson woman in her 70s

North Texas Congressmen Say Business Outlook Is Worrisome

Two Dallas-area congressmen told the Richardson Chamber of Commerce on Monday that there’ll be even more pain to the hospitality, retail and transportation, all theree major industries in Texas, if Congress doesn’t act quickly. 

Congressman Van Taylor, who represent much of Collin County, warned of a coming wave of commercial real estate foreclosures. The Plano Republican said he’d proposed a bill to give companies the flexibility to delay mortgage payments as delinquency rates are on the rise.

“You’re not really seeing that in the office space or the apartment space, but you’re certainly seeing that in retail and in hospitality, and there are a lot of jobs at stake,” said Taylor.

In 2019, there were 1.4 million Texans working in the leisure and hospitality industry, and 1.3 million Texans had retail jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission

Congressman Colin Allred, a Democrat from Dallas, pointed to an airline industry in dire straits as a top concern.

“We are right now about a month away from over 100,000 airline employees losing their jobs, either being furloughed or being laid off entirely or taking early retirement,” said Allred.

With two airports and two major airline carriers based in North Texas, Allred says those cuts would certainly hurt Dallas-Fort Worth.

Still, there seems to be little likelihood that federal aid will come quickly for struggling industries or workers. The Trump Administration and Democrats who lead the House still appear to be far from making a deal to help contain the coronavirus and cushion its economic fallout. The Republican-led Senate left town for its August break, and isn’t expected back until after Labor Day.

- Chris Connelly

Denton County Reports 127 New Cases, And Free Drive-Thru Testing This Week

The Denton County Public Health reported 127 new cases, bringing the county's cumulative case total to 8,427 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

On Friday, Aug. 21, DCPH will be providing a free drive-thru COVID-19 testing center at University of North Texas’ Discovery Park. Pre-registration is required to get tested and appointments are available starting at 8 a.m. People who will be eleigible for testing are those who've had symptoms of COVID-19 within the past seven days, essential employees, individuals 60 years and older, as well as individuals who have had contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus. 

Collin County Reports 168 New Cases, 3 More Deaths 

There are 168 new confirmed cases in Collin County today, bringing the total confirmed countywide to 10,169 cases, including 101 deaths total. 

Tarrant County Sees 256 New Cases

Tarrant County reported 256 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday putting the county's number of total positive cases to 38,016. There were 381 COVID-19 occupied beds.

Virus Hitting One Rio Grande Valley County Hard 

Officials in the Rio Grande Valley say COVID-19 may be hitting one of their counties harder than New York. Doctor James Castillo is the Cameron County health authority. 

"New York had about, in those worst hit counties, around 3,000 cases per 100,000 residents," Castillo said. "Here in Cameron County we now have over 4,100 confirmed infections per 100,000 — that's 4% of the population."

A New York Times analysis finds the five metropolitan areas in the US with the highest rate of new coronavirus cases are all located in South Texas, including Brownsville and Harlingen in Cameron County.

TCU Professor With COVID-19 Dies

A long-time professor at TCU has died from complications of COVID-19.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Robert Rhodes taught law in the Neeley School of Business. His time at TCU began in 1982 as an adjunct professor. Rhodes practiced law until 1984, before becoming a full-time lecturer at TCU.

Robert Rhodes was 65.

Is Texas Being Left Out Of The DNC?

Some prominent Texas Democrats have complained about the lack of focus on the state in the party's national convention this week.

But the all-virtual affair doesn't leave out Texans.

Community activist Neelima Gonuguntla of Irving took part in delivering yesterday's opening prayers.

The Democratic Convention's passing on the usual keynote address tomorrow night - and will instead spread that slot among 17 speakers. They'll include two Dallas lawmakers: freshman U-S House member Colin Allred and two-term state House member Victoria Neave. 

Sunday, Aug. 16

Another State Backlog Makes Dallas County's Single-Day Case Number 9 Times Higher Than Normal

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 5,361 cases on Sunday, which is about nine times higher than the daily case average from the past week.

The 5,361 case count today is Dallas County's highest single-day number, but that's because 5,195 of the cases came "from a large volume of reports received yesterday through the Texas Department of State Health Services electronic laboratory reporting system," Dallas County stated in a press release. "According to [Texas] DSHS, this backlog of reports is due to coding errors and is beginning to be resolved through a recent system upgrade in their reporting system."

On Saturday, Tarrant County reported a higher-than-usual case number due to a backlog of state counts coming in, too, and Collin County also reported a number of cases Friday that was nearly 10 times its daily average.

The majority of Dallas County's 5,195 cases are from tests conducted in July. Here's a breakdown of the backlogged cases by the month of test collection:

• March: 13
• April: 149
• May: 80
• June: 52
• July: 4,298
• August: 603

Today's surge in case numbers brings Dallas County's total cumulative count — recovered, current and deaths — to 63,428, a 9% increase from yesterday's accumulative total of 58,067.

One death was reported today, bringing the total death count to 825.

Tarrant County Reports 8 Deaths

Tarrant County reported 688 new cases today, bringing its cumulative total to 37,760. It also reported eight deaths, bringing the death total to 459.

Despite Caseload Decrease, The Coronavirus Is Still Spreading In Texas

Despite a slow but steady shrinkage in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported by Texas health officials, the virus is still spreading geographically.

State officials say a resident of Sterling County, 75 miles east of Midland, was reported Thursday as testing positive. That made the sparsely populated West Texas county the 251st of the state's 254 counties to have a coronavirus case reported.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 deaths have been reported in 211 counties.

— Associated Press

Texas Reports 238 More COVID-19 Deaths, For Total Of 9,840

The state added 238 more deaths Saturday, bringing Texas' total to 9,840, getting closer to the 10,000 mark. The Texas Department of State Health Services said Saturday the number of reported cases increased by 8,245 to 528,838.

The true number of cases is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. Health officials said that 6,481 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized.

The number of hospitalizations has been decreasing as has the number of newly reported cases.

— Associated Press

Read More: A Timeline Of COVID-19's Spread In North Texas

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