OEM Coordinator Andy Kirkland

Courtesy/Wharton Journal-Spectator

Wharton County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland is shown during a Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, July 13. Log on to www.journal-spectator.com to listen in on what he and elected officials had to say about the latest COVID-19 report.

In the past few days, numerous COVID-19 reports by the Wharton County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) have given residents pause as they try to make sense of the information that is provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

OEM officials and county leaders have long said that much of the state data that is turned by the DSHS to them is dated. That realization came true when WC received 86 recoveries in the Wednesday, July 15 report, the most by far since this DSHS data began being reported March 21.

The OEM said the following about the recoveries: “Please be advised that the state DSHS has changed to a more ‘time-based’ recovery criteria.”

Andy Kirkland told the Journal-Spectator the OEM had been receiving recovery cases just once a week from DSHS.

The 80-plus recoveries paved the way for WC to drop in its active case category drastically – going from 263 to 189 in back-to-back days, July 14 and July 15.

Much like the rest of the counties throughout southeast Texas, WC has continued to climb in new positive COVID-19 cases. Only twice this month did WC report 0 new cases. And when WC has received new cases, it has continued to beat previous highs. On June 28, WC had a record 22 new positive cases.

On July 10, the OEM reported WC had 25 new cases, followed by 47 the following day. Since July 10, WC has reached double digit cases four consecutive days.

COVID-19 deaths are another factor that is not timely in the OEM reports. County officials, and many residents here know there are multiple deaths from the effects of the coronavirus. The first coronavirus death in WC was first reported on June 3 and has remained unchanged since.

According to the OEM this week, the DSHS has to receive a report from the Bureau of Vital Statistics showing a death was from COVID-19 before it will be listed. It can be a long process, the OEM said.

The OEM also said COVID-19 testing can be administered in any county in the state. If a person marks they are from WC, eventually it will be reported to the OEM here.

Cities and age groups

El Campo reached 100 new positive cases on July 9. It now has 169 confirmed cases and 86 active. Wharton had 99 cases on July 11 and then 110 on the July 13 OEM report. Today it has 116 confirmed cases, 61 of them active. Boling had 1 case for weeks and then 2 positive cases until June 27. The next day, it reported 10 new coronavirus cases. Today, Boling has 18 cases, 7 of them active.

Hungerford township has 8 confirmed and 3 active. East Bernard has 43 confirmed cases, 25 of them active.

Among the other townships reporting cases are Eagle Lake (1 confirmed, 1 active), Lane City (2 confirmed, 2 active), Lissie (1 confirmed, 1 active), and Louise (7 confirmed, 3 active).

Females make up 196 of the coronavirus cases and males 153. When the report reads “unknown”, the sex of the person was not available to the OEM from the state.

The age group broken down for COVID-19 cases is 0-20 age (32), 21-40 age (130), 41-60 age (101),  (91), age unknown (11).

The OEM officials said the recent upward trend in positive cases means (residents) must remain diligent in efforts to slow the spread of this disease.

It said in part: “Now is not the time to let up on our social-distancing practices,” the OEM said. “Take personal responsibility and do your part: continue to avoid crowds, wear masks pursuant to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order and use good common sense when out in the community.”

WC has 365 all-time cases.

The OEM said there are new tentative testing dates with Wharton now being Tuesday and Wednesday (July 21-22), and in El Campo Thursday July 23.

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