Texas Dept. of State Health Services now using death certificates to count COVID-19 fatalities

This change standardizes death reporting across the state but will cause the number of deaths on the Williamson County dashboard to be out of sync with the Texas DSHS count until the WCCHD fully transitions to the DSHS reporting method, which will happen later this week. (Community Impact staff)
This change standardizes death reporting across the state but will cause the number of deaths on the Williamson County dashboard to be out of sync with the Texas DSHS count until the WCCHD fully transitions to the DSHS reporting method, which will happen later this week. (Community Impact staff)

This change standardizes death reporting across the state but will cause the number of deaths on the Williamson County dashboard to be out of sync with the Texas DSHS count until the WCCHD fully transitions to the DSHS reporting method, which will happen later this week. (Community Impact staff)

The Williamson County and Cities Health District reported 67 new coronavirus cases July 28, bringing the total to 5,433.

Currently, 62 patients are hospitalized, 35 are in intensive care and 25 are on a ventilator. The WCCHD also reported 22% of hospital beds, 16% of ICU beds and 58% of ventilators are available.

According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 100 county deaths.

On July 28, the county announced it will no longer be issuing press releases giving ages and genders of residents who die due to COVID-19 as reported by the WCCHD.

The announcement further said that the Texas Department of State Health Services is now using death certificates instead of local health district reports to count COVID-19 fatalities. According to the county, this standardizes death reporting across the state, but it will cause the number of deaths on the county dashboard to be out of sync with the Texas DSHS count until the WCCHD fully transitions to the DSHS reporting method, which will happen later this week.


“Death certificates can take between a week to more than three months following a death to be issued, resulting in a lag in the count between the state and local health district,” the county said. “In counties that do not have local health departments or districts, a death certificate is the only method to verify a death attributed to COVID-19, causing an increase in numbers under the new reporting system.”

Reported deaths are of confirmed cases who died because of their COVID-19 illness or complications thereof, either as a cause of death or a significant contributing factor in the death, per the dashboard.

Of the total cases, 4,780 have recovered, and there are 553 active cases.

However, recoveries are not reported to the state’s contact tracing and data system; therefore, recovery information is not absolute and is to be used for estimating purposes only, according to the WCCHD website. No trends or other inferences should be drawn from this data, as the numbers posted represent a point-in-time snapshot and may fluctuate throughout the day, it said.

Here is an update on total cases in the cities of residence, including deaths and probable cases, according to the WCCHD.

  • Austin: 340

  • Cedar Park: 606

  • Georgetown: 1,020

  • Hutto: 404

  • Leander: 246

  • Round Rock: 1,896

  • Other: 726


If the WCCHD is unable to confirm the city of residence after three attempts, the case is deemed “lost to follow-up” and is not included in the above count, officials said.

Officials said the county is not legally able to release the specific counts in cities with fewer than 20,000 residents. For more information, such as gender and age breakdowns, visit the county's dashboard.
By Sally Grace Holtgrieve
Sally Grace Holtgrieve solidified her passion for news during her time as Editor-in-Chief of Christopher Newport University's student newspaper, The Captain's Log. She started her professional career at The Virginia Gazette and moved to Texas in 2015 to cover government and politics at The Temple Daily Telegram. She started working at Community Impact Newspaper in February 2018 as the Lake Travis-Westlake reporter and moved into the role of Georgetown editor in June 2019, and in addition, editor of Leander-Cedar Park in August 2020.


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