"Live cautiously," George said. "COVID is still here. It is real."
The significant changes in publicly reported data are due to a data tracking system introduced in late May called Texas Health System, which was designed to improve the investigation of cases and contact tracing throughout the state by allowing local health departments to access state-collected lab reports.
Until last week, Fort Bend County's epidemiology team did not have full access to Texas Health System data, said Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter, the director of Fort Bend County Health and Human Services.
Prior to the new system, Fort Bend County received COVID-19 reports from individual hospitals, laboratories and individual clinics as well as occasional data dumps from the state electronic surveillance system, Minter said.
"We began to identify the COVID cases attributed to Fort Bend County that weren't previously to or by us," Minter said. "A few of these cases data back to March and April. Some of these cases occurred in May, but the majority of these cases occurred in June and July, when the spikes were occurring throughout our region."
Over the next several days, the county will report large numbers of cases, but only a portion of these will be newly confirmed cases.
There will be a disclaimer to distinguish new cases and those that are being pulled from the data, Minter said.
"There is no vaccine [for COVID-19] out there," George said. "The only tools we have are social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a mask, and if you don't need to go out, don't go out, and if you do, think about it. ... Be careful."