Bexar County’s death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 1,000 on Sunday as officials released updated data gathered as a response to a discrepancy in state versus local health department numbers. The total is now 1,016.

There were 23 deaths reported from June 25–Aug. 17 and another death reported from the last two weeks.

The total number of coronavirus cases is now 49,915, which includes an increase of 1,575 tests that were backlogged due to discrepancies in “electronic lab reporting that is affecting case counts all across the state,” a City spokesperson said via email.

More than 180 deaths remain under investigation by the City’s Metropolitan Health District, which had been anticipating the state’s release of backlogged data.

The Texas Department of State Health Services recently received cumulative files of coronavirus test results from labs in Houston and Longview that handle tests from across the state. Those files included 205,680 (a vast majority from the Houston lab) tests, of which 21,438 were positive.

A “routing error during the system upgrade” made two labs, DSHS Austin Laboratory and Baylor Scott and White Health, fail to forward the tests for processing by the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System. “The issue has been resolved and they are now ready to be uploaded into NEDSS,” an email from the state department to local health departments reads.

“So that state and local COVID-19 data will most accurately reflect the current situation in your community, we encourage you to report cases arising from older testing as backlogged cases, and more recent cases as new,” the email continues. “This will help us ensure that estimates of active and recovered patients are as accurate as possible.”

Sunday was the first time backlogged cases from this error were reported by the City, which plans to do so every Sunday as necessary.

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The recent death reported was of a Hispanic male resident of Sonterra Health Center. He was in his 80s and had underlying health conditions. Of the backlogged deaths, one occurred in June, 12 in July, and 10 in August.

The reason public health data often is reported one or two years later is because of the time it takes to clean up the data, which includes reaching out to health care providers and family members for missing information and checking medical records, Dr. Anita Kurian, Metro Health assistant director, told the San Antonio Report last week. “That’s one of the reasons why we don’t release any real-time information because it’s always provisional and subject to change.”

Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org