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Brazos Country Health District fixes COVID-19 death total; county sees third day of 100+ new reported cases

Posted at 3:15 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 20:05:52-05

BRYAN, TX — On Thursday the Brazos County Health District reported a staggering 25 deaths in their daily coronavirus report. The health district said the number is due to a backlog, meaning the deaths, which go back as far as June, were reported directly to the state rather than to the health district.

“What happened is that some of the deaths get reported to us appropriately, but some were reported directly to the state, not through the health district, and so several, about six weeks or so ago, we started to see a discrepancy and really looked into why that's occurring,” explained Dr. Seth Sullivan, Brazos County Alternate Health Authority.

The Texas Department of State Health Services started utilizing death certificate data at the end of July. However, according to Sara Mendez with the Brazos County Health District, in October county officials started noticing a larger discrepancy in deaths being reported by DSHS compared to local numbers.

“It was those that occurred outside of the hospital setting. So, it could have been at a residence or a nursing home, hospice facility. Those deaths were reported exactly like they should be with the death certificates and things like that through the state, but not necessarily that information was getting back to us on a local level,” said Mendez.

Moving forward, the health district will have access to death certificates that are reported to the state, ensuring COVID-related death totals are accurate.

“What we are trying to be is as accurate as possible and as transparent as possible,” said Dr. Sullivan.

“Now that we have a good system in place with accessing those death certificates, as well as with the other local partners like JPs, hospice, nursing facilities to make sure that is in line that we should not see a huge discrepancy,” Mendez added.

As of Friday, both the Brazos County Health District and DSHS report a total number of 122 local COVID-19 deaths, placing Brazos County 37th in the state for the largest death toll.

On Friday, the health district reporting 127 new cases, the third day in a row of more than 100 new reported cases.

Dr Sullivan explains the recent spike in cases can be attributed to Thanksgiving, but there is also another factor, the weather.

“There is no doubt that there is a role in humidity, or lack of humidity, in transmitting this virus, and so where air is cooler, where air is dryer, the virus more efficiently transmits,” he said.

With the Christmas holiday just two weeks away, city officials are urging the community to continue safe practices as we get closer to the end of one the craziest years of this century.

“Still do all the social distancing, wear the masks, wash your hands. Practice those things that we’ve been talking about for the last 10 months,” said Karl Mooney, Mayor of College Station.