Officials shed light on COVID deaths

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Ricketson: State will not notify county

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According to the county emergency management in a Monday meeting, the Texas Department of State Health Services will not report deaths of any residents to the county, meaning the four deaths for Hopkins County on the DSHS dashboard will stand.

“Unless the family comes forward with death certificates, we can’t confirm it’s a death,” Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jason Ricketson said. “There is no way to confirm or deny the number of deaths.”

This means any information related to the deaths will not be available to the county, because COVID-19 deaths are determined by the cause of death printed on a death certificate. If the cause of death is found to be COVID-19, it is counted toward a county’s fatalities. Death certificates are not public record.

“There’s not a consistent way to report deaths besides looking at the dashboard,” local health authority nurse Brynn Smith said.

The dashboard can be found at dshs.texas. gov/coronavirus/cases. aspx.

When asked why Hopkins County cannot release case demographics or an age breakdown, Smith said the decision to not divulge that information was a “group decision.”

“It might give a false sense of security,” Smith said. “Those ages that aren’t that badly affected might go out more. We need to take all the same precautions. This virus doesn’t care what zip code you live in.”

Hunt, Lamar, Wood, Rains and Titus counties release age demographics on their positive cases.

Smith also encouraged the public to be tested even if they are not exhibiting symptoms to “get a better idea of what we’re up against.”

She also clarified on the three tests used to detect COVID-19: antibody, antigen and PCR/ molecular. The antibody test is done using blood samples and will show if someone has been exposed to COVID-19. The antigen test, known as the rapid test, is taken through nasal or oral swabs, and Smith said the positive test is reliable while the negative is not. The PCR test is done through nasal or oral swabs, and it is reliable for both negative and positive results. It is also the only test that is reported to the county.