The Montgomery County Public Health Department announced a change in its COVID-19 case reporting process July 15, along with record-high additions to the county's active and cumulative case counts.

The daily case count increases reported July 15 are by far the highest yet but are likely a one-time jump related to the shift in the county's reporting strategy and the release of backlogged case information, according to Misti Willingham, the health department's public information officer. Per the health department's July 15 report, Montgomery County's cumulative case total rose by 853 to 4,324—a nearly 25% increase over July 14—while the active case count rose by 787 to 2,101, representing a nearly 60% single-day increase.

The health department said its method of logging cases shifted July 15 from reporting each incident after individual contact investigations are launched to reporting case information once initial laboratory reports are received by the county, before investigations begin. Additional identifying information usually confirmed during investigations, such as the resident's sex or case status, may not be immediately reported under the new method, but it will be added as investigations proceed, the health department said in a statement. Residents' ages and addresses will still be logged under the new method based on lab reports, the county said.

In addition to the overall case increases, the death of a Conroe woman in her 80s was reported July 15 in relation to COVID-19. Forty-five county residents' deaths related to the disease have now been reported. Sixty-five new recoveries were also reported July 15, and the county's total 2,178 recoveries now represent just over half of all confirmed cases.

The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 remained at 44 on July 15, while 1,637 active cases remain in self-isolation. Due to the county's reporting shift, an additional 420 active cases did not have a confirmed status July 15.

According to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council shared by the county, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county regardless of residence dropped by 14 to 232 on July 15. Of those, 168 people are in general or isolation beds, and 64 are in intensive care unit beds.