ANGLETON — An increase in the number of people being tested could reverse Brazoria County’s recent COVID-19 downward trend, Community Health Network Chief Administration Officer Penny Pabst said.
Pabst believes numerous factors could be responsible for the recent low case numbers.
“We have actually started to see a lot more people requesting tests lately,” Pabst said. “Most of the sites were down during the storms, but we are starting to pick them back up.”
Many testing sites were closed from Sept. 22 through 27 based on concerns of Tropical Storm Beta, Pabst said.
With more tests results coming, Pabst worries more positive tests will be reported.
“I expect to give a different story shortly,” Pabst said. “I expect larger numbers coming up. A lot had to do because of the weather and not being able to test. I also think people are just tired of COVID and may not be getting tests or just quarantining rather than getting the nasal swab.”
Pabst also warns that Texas continues to have a higher-than-average positivity rate and residents need to remain vigilant.
“We are not out of this and we are hoping for this to go away,” she said. “I think people are just preparing to move on with life.”
The Brazoria County Health Department hasn’t offered an explanation for having fewer COVID-19 infections to report over the past week, county spokesperson Sharon Trower said.
“The health department processes the cases and somedays there are more than others and there is no particular reason why,” Trower said. “Last week we had a few high days, but every day is different.”
The health department does not receive the numbers of how many residents tested, Trower said.
“There is sometimes no rhyme or reason to it,” she said. “We don’t have a good count of how many we have tested. A few testing facilities provide negatives and positives, but we don’t have an accurate count overall of how many tested.”
Texas Health and Human Services data show the county has had 117,545 COVID-19 tests performed during the pandemic, a count that includes state prison inmates.
“Cumulative test totals include tests performed by public labs (Laboratory Response Network) and non-public labs (commercial labs, hospitals, physician offices, and drive-thru sites) reported electronically and non-electronically,” according to the state dashboard. “Total test numbers are unable to be de-duplicated for private labs.”
Trower reminded the public that COVID-19 is still a threat within the community and residents need to continue protective measures.
Of Thursday’s 33 reported cases, six were from tests administered more than two weeks ago, a significantly smaller share than seen in recent days.
Lake Jackson led municipalities with seven residents testing positive for the virus, followed by Angleton with six. Five resided in Manvel, three were in Pearland and two each came from Freeport, Richwood and Brazoria, according to county data.
Residents in their 40s were the most affected, accounting for seven of Thursday’s announced cases. Four adolescents, four people in their 60s, three in their 50s, two more in their 20s and older than 80 and one resident in their 70s also tested positive.
Thursday also marked the sixth straight day of fewer than 50 new cases — the longest span since June 12 through June 17, according to county data.
Thursday’s report included one Brazoria County jail inmate and six probable cases.
The new infections announced daily are from tests taken at least several days previously. On average, it takes two to four days for labs to return results, but some tests could take longer before the findings are reported to the county.
County officials also reported 178 residents had fully recovered from the novel coronavirus.
Brazoria County has seen 10,490 reported cases of COVID-19, of which 762 are active and 9,259 have recovered as of Thursday evening. There are 11 probable cases, and there have been 103 fatalities.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.