NEW Case-Count Definiton Allows Probable Cases to Include up to 16 ‘CONTACTS’ with 1 ‘PROBABLE CASE’

June 30, 2020 in News by RBN Staff


Texas’ New Coronavirus Criteria Could Artificially Spike Collin County Cases

Source: Texas Scorecard

May 26, 2020


County officials warn local COVID-19 case and death numbers may show a misleading increase just as Texas is reopening for business.



North Texas officials are warning changes in how the state defines and reports cases of the Chinese coronavirus could “significantly and artificially” spike local case totals, creating false alarm as Texas begins to reopen for business.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill advised residents this weekend the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will begin reporting “probable” COVID-19 cases in addition to “confirmed” cases.

Texas is also expanding its criteria for defining “probable” cases, as well as COVID-related deaths.

The new guidelines are being implemented as DSHS planned to take over all coronavirus case management, contact tracing, and reporting duties starting Tuesday.

Hill said Tuesday evening those plans to transfer duties are on hold following a “very productive” conference call he, Commissioner Cheryl Williams, and county staff had with DSHS earlier in the day:

“DSHS has agreed to postpone the transition to allow for additional discussions. Accordingly, the Commissioners Court will hold a special meeting this Friday, May 29, 2020, at 1:30pm to discuss the transition and the ongoing relationship between DSHS and Collin County.”

For now, Hill said Collin County officials will continue monitoring and reporting on local cases.

Prior to the new case-definition guidelines, Collin County and Texas have been reporting “confirmed” cases based on laboratory PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests which detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA in a clinical specimen.

Under the state’s expanded criteria, it is possible to meet the definition of a probable COVID-19 case without exhibiting any symptoms at all.

“It is remarkable how low the standard is now,” Hill said at last week’s commissioners court meeting during a briefing on the changes:

“I fear this is coming at a time when we’re just now starting to reopen. If the numbers jump in a false way, it’s going to start to be very concerning to our citizens that we’re actually going backwards.”

“I am not happy with the state-mandated changes,” Commissioner Darrell Hale said following the meeting. “As a county, we have been good about reporting cases and information. And now, midstream, the reporting methodology is changing. This change will make quality decisions harder.”

On Sunday, Hill said there are significant reasons to be concerned with the new reporting criteria.

The increase in false positives will result in more residents quarantined for insignificant reasons and will raise public distrust of the state’s reporting. It will also stress health department resources, as contact tracing of more “probable” cases will lead to inflated lists of people being monitored.

“None of these help us stop the spread of COVID-19, nor do they strike a prudent balance between public health priorities and individual concerns,” he said. “This is not the way to keep our communities healthy.”

Hill said the state is also changing how virus-related deaths are reported:

“Currently, a death in our community is reported as COVID-19 related only if a laboratory test had been completed and confirmed. Under the new DSHS guidance, any individual whose death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death (even when no confirmatory laboratory testing was performed) will be included in the COVID-19 death totals.”

“This is alarming and comes at a time when we are starting to reopen,” Collin County resident Deidra Dennis told Texas Scorecard. “It will drive up the probable case numbers and deaths, thus [indicating] we should shut down again. The state, instead of counties, will take charge and do the full virus statistical reporting and contact tracing. I don’t see removing local county control as a good idea.”

Local activist Mike Openshaw, who has a background in medical microbiology/virology and data analysis, has been following the coronavirus numbers closely since the beginning of the outbreak and is also alarmed by the reporting changes.

“Suddenly adding these numbers to the number of confirmed cases will cause the numbers to skyrocket,” Openshaw posted on Facebook. “From an epidemiological standpoint, it will make it impossible to determine if we are gaining or losing ground. From a political and policy viewpoint … this will ‘poison the policy well’ with false numbers.”

Openshaw said DSHS should report the numbers, but separately. “Changing how and what numbers are reported and merging them together—just as we are reopening the economy—is both false and a blatant attempt to skew policy by unelected bureaucrats.”

Proponents say the new reporting strategy accords with CDC guidelines and will ensure case data is reported consistently for all counties.

The CDC and Texas DSHS acknowledged last week they had been improperly combining active infection and antibody test numbers since May 13.

Future coronavirus case data for Collin and other Texas counties will be reported on the DSHS COVID-19 dashboard.






At the Collin County meeting, Aisha Souri of the county’s epidemiology department explained that the state’s revised definition for COVID-19 probable cases will allow those labeled as “probable” carriers to be counted as “confirmed cases.”

“So, for a confirmed case it stays the same, you still just need PCR [lab results]. But, now they’ve added a probable case definition. So, that still gets counted towards the case count. It’s different, it’s not ‘confirmed,’ it’s ‘probable,’ but it’s still a case,” she said.

Souri continued, “Meaning, if you use another testing method, not PCR, and if you have close contact with a confirmed or probable case – and if you did that lab work that was not a PCR you could be considered a case with or without symptoms.”

Souri showed a graphic explaining how a “confirmed” COVID case reportedly contacting sixteen people is counted as 17 COVID cases by the CDC according to the updated “probable case definition.”

New definition for “Probable Case Definition” for COVID-19.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill is reported to have said the state of Texas “elected to adopt this new probable definition.”

He said people displaying even minor symptoms will be included in the COVID cases counts:
“If you have a subjective fever and you have a headache, and you live in Collin County, you now meet the qualifications to be a probable COVID patient. It is remarkable how low the standard is now.”

“If you have one of the major symptoms, you have a cough or you have shortness of breathe, and you live in Collin County, then you can satisfy the definition for a probable COVID case…”
“…But I’m very concerned that we absolutely could see the numbers jump very rapidly in a way that is actually not indicative of what we’re seeing here in the community in the Public Health Department.”

Souri told the Collin County Commissioners Court, “previously, prior to this definition, it was only if you had a positive PCR result that you would be counted as someone who died related to COVID-19. But now, lab testing is no longer required to be counted towards that.”

MSM sources including Washington Post and Daily Mail continue to hype much more deadly versions of coronavirus to come in the future.