Fort Bend County officials announced Aug. 5 that a change in their COVID-19 tracking and contact tracing system would result in an “exponential increase” in cases, according to County Judge KP George.
Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson Minter, the director of the county’s Health and Human Services department, said Texas Health Trace, the state’s data management and contact tracing system for COVID-19 cases, had begun to attribute a backlog of coronavirus cases to patients in Fort Bend County that had not been previously reported to county officials.
As of Monday, the county had reported 10,018 total coronavirus cases, adding 2,064 cases since Aug. 5. Of those newly reported cases, 1,538 resulted from the Texas Health Trace backlog, according to the county.
“Only a portion of those will be newly confirmed cases,” Minter said during an Aug. 5 news conference at the County Courthouse in Richmond. “We will provide identification of which cases were in the database before and which cases are currently new cases.”
George said the recent spike in new cases is a result of community spread, not from outside the county.
“You need to be careful. You need to be living your life with caution,” George said. “COVID is still here. It is real.”
According to county data, there have been 52,909 total tests administered by county-sanctioned sites. In addition, 3,451 patients have recovered from COVID-19 and 113 deaths have been reported among county residents.
According to the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC), which tracks ICU and hospital bed usage in the region, 26.4 percent of the county’s ICU patients as of Monday were suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases. COVID-19 patients represented 15.2 percent of the total number of patients in general hospital beds. The county’s hospitals as a whole remain below their operational capacities for both general beds and ICU beds, although only 16 of 122 ICU beds were available as of Monday.
Rita Obey, a spokesperson for the county’s Health and Human Services department, said it is important for the community to recognize their role in minimizing the spread of the virus.
“Every person has to be able to recognize that while they may have important business that they may need to attend to, that they need to think through how those decisions may impact their family members,” Obey said. “There are a lot of activities that are available for people to engage in, but are they the best option for them to protect their family members?”