Entry of COVID-19 case backlog of largest increase to date is now over
AUSTIN, Texas – The COVID-19 omicron variant is responsible for the biggest surge of the pandemic to date, leaving Austin’s Public Health (APH) Epidemiology and Informatics Units with thousands of case reports to verify. APH staff explored ways to automate the data entry process to ensure that dashboard data is as timely and accurate as possible. The new process has been rolled out in phases over the past few months. Thursday afternoon’s dashboard update includes 5,878 additional cases, the latest batch of the backlog.
The Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard now reflects a more comprehensive view of the extent of infections throughout the pandemic. The region continues to experience a second wave of omicron infections caused by the BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants. The initial surge of omicron in January and February resulted in an influx of more than 70,000 new cases and presented challenges to an already taxed public health system.
“We thank the APH staff members who have continued to work diligently throughout this pandemic in an effort to treat the cases received during this unprecedented omicron surge,” said the chief epidemiologist. Janet Pichette. “This information is critical to understanding the impact of COVID-19 on our community and to strengthening planning and response efforts.
Pending cases appear on the epi curve of the monitoring dashboard on the date of onset/test collection for the case. The 5,878 cases were spread over several months.
Thursday’s update also highlights the loss the community is experiencing as a result of COVID-19. Epidemiologists have investigated and verified COVID-19 related deaths and confirmed the person’s community of residence. These investigations involved cross-checking with state records, finding lab results, and confirming medical records.
The assessment resulted in 138 additional COVID-19-related deaths, bringing Austin-Travis County’s total to 1,718. Deaths appear on the dashboard according to the year in which they occurred:
- 14 in 2020
- 99 in 2021
- 25 in 2022
“The work we do to ensure the accuracy of data collection on COVID-19 is essential to understanding how devastating this virus has been and continues to be,” said Adrienne Sturrup, director of public health. from Austin. “Every death represents a member of someone’s family, a beloved friend, a trusted colleague. We must continue to work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect each other.
After a drop in COVID-19-related deaths in April and May (11 deaths), Austin-Travis County reports 25 deaths in June and July. COVID-19 remains one of the leading causes of death in the community. Getting up to date with COVID-19 vaccines remains the best way to protect against serious illness and death. Visit Vaccines.gov / Vacunas.gov to find a provider near you.
Free COVID-19 tests
APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with people at risk. The APH Metz Elementary testing site (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin, TX 78702) provides free PCR testing and rapid antigen testing. A third set of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits is available from the federal government.
Free masks (N-95 respirators)
Use the CDC’s mask locator tool to find pharmacies near you that provide free masks (N95 respirators). It does not show current inventories, so check with the location for availability.