Published: April 7, 2020 at 6:54 p.m. CDT
By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
JEFFERSON – Without a health department or even a health authority in Marion County, information is sketchy about COVID-19 testing by local residents.
The Jimplecute has learned not every county in Texas has a local health department. Out of 254 counties there are 50-60 with local health departments. Those who do not have a local health department services are conducted through the Texas Department of State and Health Services (DSHS).
While most counties have a local health authority appointed by the county judge, a check of the DSHS coronavirus website shows the DSHS office in Tyler as the health authority for Marion County.
The Tyler DSHS office said Tuesday they did not have a breakout of the number of tests administered to Marion County residents.
Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur said in a social media video Tuesday that the testing information may not be available.
“Right now there is no database on the state level or the county level that is taking that sort of information (local testing),” LaFleur said. “Anyone that is going to Harrison or Gregg counties to be tested may be showing up in those counties. The data is flawed at the moment.”
Marion County’s De Facto Health Department Weighs In
Lyndsey Rosales, Communications Specialist with the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Tuesday the state agency was attempting to make the local testing data available.
“We don’t currently have a number of tests by county but we are working on making this information available,” Rosales told the Jimp.
Rosales confirmed that Marion County is served by DSHS public health region 4/5 which acts as the county’s health department.
If a Marion County resident is tested elsewhere, since no tests are available here, the results are still credited locally.
“The test counts also go to the county of residence of the person tested,” Rosales said.
DSHS retains confidence in the tests despite news reports that perhaps a third may give false positive or negative results.
“Our tests are FDA approved and are generally reliable. We know asymptomatic people can test positive for COVID-19, which would be classified as a case,” Rosales concluded.
Area Testing Counts
Harrison County Judge Chad Sims reported last Wednesday that 96 completed tests for that county.
“We get a report every Wednesday morning from the Marshall/Harrison County Health District. We do our best to only get Harrison County tests. It is hugely difficult. Everyone is busy.
“Some complicating factors are that we are not only showing more tests than Harrison County residents, but residents also go to Shreveport [to be tested]. We are just reporting the best we have at the time. People are frustrated and I get frustrated too,” Sims told the Jimp Monday.
Cass County Emergency Management PIO Lisa Thompson told the Jimp Thursday, “We do not have the number of tests completed.”
Gregg County confirmed 380 tests were completed as of Saturday.
The Louisiana Department of Health reports the number tested in Caddo Parish stands at 12,217. Caddo Parish has a population of approximately 250,000.
DSHS reports 88,649 tests completed statewide as of Tuesday.
The population of Texas is 28.7 million.
Bob can be reached by Bob@Jimplecute1848.com.
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