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Tabulating changes increase COVID-19 caseload

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An eighth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Bandera County last week, but this week that patients had improved enough to be considered recovered as a new system for tracking the virus was unveiled, officials said.

Bandera County Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed reported those changes, including modifications in the tracking system that added to the COVID-19 caseload in Bandera County and elsewhere because the circumstances that determine if a case is counted have been expanded. The count has been expanded

The count has been expanded to include cases that are listed as “presumptive positives,” which have not been confirmed in a laboratory but qualify as cases because of the symptoms exhibited and the history of exposure to another viral case, along with cases listed as “under investigation.”

By the new definition, Bandera County had 15 COVID cases as of Monday, June 22, including nine cases that were considered active.

No fatalities had been linked to the pandemic in Bandera County.

Reed said the change will make it more difficult to monitor the COVID cases in the county since she does not expect to receive individual reports on each case and get separate reports when a case is considered cleared.

She also does not expect to receive addresses on where the confirmed cases are located so those addresses can be flagged for emergency medical service personnel and other first responders to be prepared for if another call is made to that location.

The change in the tracking formula apparently was driven by how rapidly the COVID-19 caseload is growing in Texas and how difficult it was for the state to release information on individual cases to counties.

The changes impacted counts in several counties around Bandera, including Medina County, where the count reached 250 as of Monday, Kendall County, where the count totaled 44 and Uvalde County, where the count was at 38.

Real County was still the least impacted county in the area with one case reported as of Monday, June 22.

The eighth confirmed case in Bandera County involved a person who is believed to have contracted the virus as a result of contact with someone else in the community who already was infected, though that contact may not have been in Bandera County, said Reed.

The new case had mild symptoms of the virus, and as of Monday, June 22, the patient had improved enough to be considered recovered.

A rapidly increasing caseload in Texas had persuaded some officials to call for stricter controls on public interaction and the mandatory use of masks to limit the spread of the disease.

The latest count statewide showed Texas had 114,881 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, June 22, with an estimated 69,190 of those considered recovered. The virus also was believed to be responsible for 2,192 deaths in Texas.

A week earlier, the Texas caseload was at 89,108, with 1,983 deaths attributed to the outbreak.

Bandera County Judge Richard Evans said it is always a concern when numbers go up, but in Texas, the number of tests has increased, so the number of positive cases was bound to increase.

He was encouraged somewhat that the number of positive cases compared to the overall number of tests had fallen recently and was at about 6 percent in the most recent count, which Evans felt was a good sign.

Still, he encouraged everyone to maintain the safety precautions that have been in place since the pandemic erupted, like staying home when you are sick and keeping a safe distance away from others.

“Nothing has changed,” the judge said. “It’s still about personal responsibility.”