Abilene City Council gives guidance on COVID-19 reporting, difference between COVID, non-COVID death

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene City Council on Thursday discussed the different kinds of COVID-19 tests, positive results, how the numbers are reported, and when a death is considered a COVID-19 death.

During Thursday’s meeting, the council voted unanimously to authorize the city manager to report the following information daily:

  • Total Test Results
  • Total Positives (Molecular PCR only)
  • Total Probable Cases (Antigen)
  • Total Negatives
  • Total Active Cases
  • Total Recovered
  • Total Deaths
  • Average Age of Death
  • Average Age of Hospitalization
  • Total Hospitalizations – In County
  • Total Hospitalizations – Out of County

City Manager Robert Hanna told the council that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is asking counties to start reporting probable cases starting Friday morning.

Hanna went on to say that members of the medical community, including Hendrick President and CEO Brad Holland, have been adamant that antigen tests, which the city continuously referred to as probable cases, be included in daily numbers.

When asked if a positive test result is counted twice if someone is administered both a PCR and antigen test, Director of Health Services Annette Lerma says each person who tests positive is only counted once, even if they receive and test positive on more than one kind of test.

Lerma said it is not required for testing sites to report negative test results, but they have been asked to. It is required by law, however, for positive results to be reported.

When asked to describe the difference between dying with COVID-19 versus dying from COVID-19, Lerma said guidance from the state dictates what’s to be listed on death certificate. If someone is COVID positive when they die, it can be listed as a factor, but the physician, Justice of the Peace, or whomever happens to be filling out that particular death certificate can also list any number of things they believed contributed to that death.

“The state does provide specific guidance to say if someone passes away and they are COVID positive, and it was a car wreck, and the obvious reason they passed away was because they sustained unsurvivable injuries in a car wreck, then that should not be counted as a COVID death,” Lerma said.

To see the full discussion, watch the attached video.


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