Austin Public Health announced Aug. 11 it has officially entered all COVID-19 cases that were backlogged from the omicron surge in January and February on its COVID-19 surveillance dashboard.

The results show a more accurate representation of COVID-19 in the county: an additional 5,878 cases and 138 deaths, bringing Travis County’s total deaths to 1,718.

The surge of omicron cases early this year caused an influx of about 70,000 case documents to come to APH, almost the same amount of cases it received in the entire first year of the pandemic, APH’s Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette said.

To combat this, Austin Public Health’s Epidemiology and IT units created a system to cross-check COVID-19 cases and automate all data entry for COVID-19 cases. The process was rolled out in batches throughout the past several months, and the last batch of cases was entered Aug. 11. Pichette said the new system will still require a person to cross-check cases, but no one has to hand-enter data anymore.

“[The system] will hopefully improve disease reporting in the future,” Pichette said, adding that APH is adapting the system for monkeypox cases.

“The work we’re doing to ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 data collection is essential to understanding just how devastating this virus has been and continues to be,” Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup said in a press release. “Each death represents someone’s family member, a beloved friend, a trusted coworker. We must continue working to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect each other.”

According to an APH press release, COVID-19 still remains a leading cause of death in the community, with 117 current hospitalizations.

“Omicron and COVID[-19] are still out there,” Pichett said. “We come in every day and fight the good fight.”