Due to changes in the way the state reports COVID-19 information, the number of deaths in Austin County has risen from one to four, but not all the deaths are recent.
County Judge Tim Lapham reported on Monday the state loosened its reporting requirements, thus speeding up the time it takes to report COVID-19 deaths.
“So, while there were four deaths reported on Sunday, they did not occur on the same day or even in close proximity to each other,” he said.
Lapham explained that the state used to require a case investigation by an epidemiologist to determine if the cause of death were related to the virus. That process was slow and frustrated many smaller counties where people often knew of a death long before it was reported.
“In response to this delay, the process for identifying deaths due to COVID-19 was shifted from one that relied on case investigations to one that was based on the death certificate only,” Lapham said. “Once that process modification occurred, a large number of previously unreported cases are being suddenly counted.”
Based on that, he said the state shows that Austin County has had 182 cases with 120 being recovered. It also shows there being 58 active cases.
“I know that doesn’t add up but that’s the numbers I got,” Lapham said.
On Tuesday morning, Bellville Medical Center released a report showing the numbers to be 193 cases in the county. In its release, the hospital system said there is “much discussion, confusion and political conflict about COVID in the public.”
What Bellville Medical Center can confirm:
1) COVID-19 exists.
2) COVID-19 can be serious.
3) COVID-19 can cause minor or no symptoms.
4) Austin County has cases of COVID-19 and we at BMC have seen COVID-19 patients.
5) Children can and do get COVID-19, as well as exhibit symptoms.
6) The elderly and those with underlying conditions are at high risk for serious illness or death.
7) Group living conditions increase the risk of exposure.
8) Information about COVID-19 is changing constantly.
9) Precautions such as consistent hand hygiene, distancing, and the wearing of masks work.
10) Medical offices and facilities are safe places, taking every precaution to keep patients and staff healthy.
11) Seeking medical care quickly is the best thing to do. Call your primary care provider or go to the emergency room if you have a high fever or difficulty breathing.
“COVID-19 is serious and should be taken seriously,” BMC said. “Precautions, preparation, planning are significantly more effective than panic or anxiety. Make plans for who will water your plants, provide childcare or care for your pets if you become ill.
“Then, do activities that are good for you. Keep in touch with friends and family, especially those that are isolated. Host virtual pray groups, dinners, happy hours. Exercise. Eat well. Maintain a schedule. Use the time to do something you have been wanting to: learn a new skill or new language, clean those neglected spots, travel via the internet, make a five-year plan with goals.
“Avoid obsessively watching the news, check it for information in the morning and evening for 10-15 minutes, if you must. Taking care of yourself and your family is the very best thing you can do right now. The precautions listed above work, please implement them. Together, we will get through this.”