NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Half a million Texans got their coronavirus test results weeks ago, but local health authorities are just now finding out about it.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says it is working to clear a backlog of cases that went unreported due to what it calls ‘formatting and coding’ issues with its electronic lab reporting system. The state says three labs – Quest Diagnostics, CHRISTUS Meditech, and Walgreens – had problems submitting their test results.
Quest Diagnostics told CBS 11 News the state replaced a server without telling them. The lab says it continued sending reports on both positive and negative test results to the old server, not realizing state wasn’t receiving them.
“Nobody is more frustrated, I’d think, than I am right now,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Cases in Dallas County appeared to be in sharp decline throughout July. But over the weekend the county learned of more than 5,000 previously unreported cases — most of them dating back to July.
As a result, case numbers appeared lower than they should have, just as parents and school districts were wrestling with whether to return kids to class.
Dr. Peter Hotez, Baylor College of Medicine’s infectious disease specialist, says having accurate case numbers is especially important right now. “I think they’re going to be necessary to make good decisions about whether to open schools,” he said.
The state has openly admitted its mistake and Hotez believes it is working to correct it. “I’m quite confident there’s no conspiracy, no weirdness going on. Everyone’s inundated, everyone’s overwhelmed with trying to manage the data under difficult circumstances. Glitches are going to happen,” he said.
A drop in hospitalizations and deaths indicates cases overall are declining, but by how much is unclear. The state says it will take a few days to clear the backlog.