Kaufman County Health Officer Dr. Benjamin Brashear told the commissioners court Tuesday morning that community spread combined with a lack of easy and available testing likely points to far more cases of COVID-19 in the county than Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) numbers reflect.
The most recent numbers available show 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kaufman County. Forney has the most with 11; followed by Scurry with 2; Terrell, 1; Crandall, 1; and the Wills Point area, 1.
Brashear, however, said there are likely hundreds of people in Kaufman County who are infected with COVID-19. If people realized how ubiquitous and common the virus is in Kaufman County, perhaps it will instill in them the need follow CDC guidelines in preventing to transmission. Hopefully, social distancing and frequent hand washing will become more consistent, according to Brashear.
Knowing precise numbers of COVID-19 positive cases are not “real difference-makers” to medical providers tasked with trying to keep Kaufman County residents safe, according to Brashear. Anyone with a cough or a temperature should be presumed to have the virus, he stated.
Brashear also outlined the steps DSHS takes to inform county health and emergency personnel of COVID-19 cases in the county. DSHS’s insistence on patient confidentiality and accuracy can lead to delays in reporting cases and glitches, Brashear reported.
For instance, information about COVID-19 patient names and addresses are not known to first-responders until they are en route to a call. While on their way to the scene, the first-responders are notified, and they then put on personal protection equipment.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners court let expire the county’s shelter-in-place order, which was placed in effect March 25 through April 8. The commissioners court reasoned that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order issued April 2 supersedes all county orders.
County Attorney Rebecca Lundberg said Abbott’s order was essentially a rebranded “shelter-in-place” order.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners court proclaimed that commissioners and County Judge Hal Richards will receive daily updates on information received from DSHS and the Centers of Disease Control compiled by the county’s Office of Emergency Management.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Cates said commissioners and Richards are getting multiple inquiries from constituents on a daily basis. The reporting of COVID-19 cases in Kaufman County has been inconsistent, he said.
Although knowing the precise number of confirmed COVID-19 cases may not have a significant impact on medical professionals, the information “does have a strong impact on our constituents,” he said.
The commissioners court does not need to know names and addresses of those with confirmed cases, but they want the most specific and accurate information that’s available to share with citizens, Cates said.
“My genuine belief is that recurring and timely communication is very critical,” he stated.