Bee Cave Mayor Kara King took to Facebook May 28 to address the method in which Travis County documents active coronavirus cases.
Both national and state data are recorded following the Department of Homeland Security’s model; however, Travis County has not implemented this approach, according to King.
Under the DHS model, an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 enters the positive case category. After 30 days, if that individual does not move into another category—hospitalization or fatalities, for example—they move from the positive category into the recovery category.
“When you look at positive cases, you are looking at a 30-day window,” King wrote. “In almost all but a few hot spots across the country, these numbers are decreasing.”
Travis County health officials show positive cases through a different model, according to King. Positive cases are reported cumulatively, and as of May 28, the number recorded is 3,124 cases.
The county also reports recoveries at 1,114, deaths at 92 and hospitalizations at 88 as of May 28.
According to King, in order for a person who tested positive to enter the recovery category, that person would need to return to their physician and receive a negative coronavirus test.
“When you look at the dashboard, what you see is an increase in numbers, but the vast majority of them are ‘old cases’ from back in March and April,” King said.
In the process of reporting recoveries, Travis County has been contacting residents who previously tested positive, according to a statement made by Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority, during a May 28 press conference.
“Historically, we have been utilizing the method where we are calling folks back to confirm a recovery,” Escott said. “However, as the outbreak has grown, we're going to have to transition to what the state is using, and that is a calculated recovery.”
The county is planning to launch an updated dashboard by early next week, according to Escott. This will modify how recoveries are displays and decided.
“So basically, that's confirmed cases minus those who have died minus those who have recovered equals the active cases,” Escott said.
King noted the upcoming dashboard changes, claiming that while the dashboard will include additional graphs, it will not follow the DHS model.
In collaboration with Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox and Bee Cave City Manager Clint Garza, King reported that the Lake Travis region has about 10 active COVID-19 cases. She said she will continue to update that number on a weekly basis.
“I want people to base their decisions on what is best for them and their businesses and families—based on accurate data,” King said.
Garza said he could not comment on the situation or King’s Facebook post at this time, but Cox said May 29 that she and Lakeway officials have been working with Travis County since the inception of the pandemic.
"We have not been able to get the COVID data broken down to city level. It's only given at the ZIP code level," Cox said. "All we know is total cases, and that's not really helpful when it comes to determining policy. We're having to call in to the epidemiologists and figure out how many active cases are in our area. So that is what King is referring to, and what I've been doing is [trying] to get data localized to our area."
Cox added that regardless of what the data shows in the Lake Travis area, it remains crucial for people to continue acting responsibly when out in public.
"Some people think [COVID-19 infection rates are] diminishing; some people think it's growing; but it doesn't matter where we're at right now," Cox said. "We haven't found a vaccine, and so it's important that people continue to wear masks and socially distance to protect those who are more vulnerable in our communities."