COVID-19 coverage graphic

The Northeast Texas Public Health District announced 79 new COVID-19 cases in Smith County on Friday, while the Smith County Emergency Operations Center disputed social media rumors that people who had signed up for walk up testing, but did not actually receive the tests, received phone calls saying they were positive for the virus.

NET Health reported Smith County has 998 active cases, 294 recoveries and seven virus-related deaths. No new recoveries were announced on Friday.

Since July 1, there have been 645 new cases in Smith County based on NET Health data.

Tyler hospitals are treating 81 patients for COVID-19 from East Texas as of Friday, which is up by one since Thursday.

In a written statement Friday, the joint emergency operations center said people are claiming on social media that someone, usually a friend of a friend, went to a walk-up testing site, registered to be tested, got tired of waiting and left, and were then called and told they tested positive.

Officials from the EOC, which includes Smith County, the city of Tyler and NET Health, said these claims have been unfounded.

“There have been no firsthand accounts reported to us when we have asked for further information. These rumors seem to be circulating on social media throughout the state and nation, not just in Tyler and Smith County. Additionally, the process of being tested at a state-sponsored testing site conducted by the Texas Division of Emergency Management does not require you to provide a name or phone number upon arrival,” the statement read. “Personal information will only be gathered at the time of registration, right before the person is tested for COVID-19.”

People who have actually had this experience should contact the EOC to connect them on how to receive proper testing and clear up any misinformation.

NET Health said none of the COVID-19 positive cases in its seven-county area include positive antibody tests from local mobile testing sites, hospitals or community clinics since the virus reached East Texas in early March. NET Health’s coverage area includes Smith, Gregg, Henderson, Anderson, Wood, Rains and Van Zandt counties.

“All of our 2,571 laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 results within our 7-county region are all positive results from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that analyze samples from a persons nose or throat.”

The seven Smith County deaths include an 87-year-old Tyler woman, 95-year-old Tyler man, 74-year-old Tyler man, a 91-year-old Hideaway man, a 56 year-old Troup man, a 78-year-old Tyler man and a 68-year-old Tyler man.

The Smith County COVID-19 death count does not include the death of Raul Rodriguez, 61, a Smith County Jail inmate who tested positive for the virus and died in mid-May, according to Rodriguez’s family.

At the time of his death, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office said the Texas Rangers would conduct an investigation, which is standard protocol for an inmate death. The Smith County Jail reported one COVID-related death to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards that day.

According to the TCJS, there are five inmates and five detention officers from the Smith County Jail who have an active case of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Inmates are not included in regular Smith County COVID-19 counts, but jailers are if they live in the county. TCJS numbers do not include inmates or officers who may have recovered.

More information about free COVID-19 testing locations, community strategies to control the spread, and access to local social services are listed at NETHealthCOVID19.org.

Smith County statistics

The Smith County joint information center typically updates recovery numbers on Tuesdays and Fridays. The center is made up of agencies, including the city of Tyler, Smith County, NET Health and Tyler ISD.

NET Health provides updates on remaining weekdays.

Of the 1,299 cases, 1,038 are in Tyler, 49 in Flint, 53 in Whitehouse, 72 in Lindale, 24 in Troup, 27 in Bullard, two in Overton, 10 in Arp, nine in Winona, two in Kilgore, eight in Hideaway, one in Gladewater and three in Mineola.

Of the total cases, 1,251 are a result of community spread and 48 are travel-related.

Here is the age breakdown of cases:

• 0-20, 254 cases

• 21-40, 509 cases

• 41-59, 335 cases

• 60-79, 176 cases

• 80 and over, 25 cases

Regarding gender, 616 are men and 683 are women.

Through July 9, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports 11,449 total tests were performed on people from Smith County.

Other counties

Anderson County has 211 cases, including 94 recoveries and one death of a 76-year-old Palestine man, according to NET Health. These numbers do not reflect inmates at the prisons in Tennessee Colony.

In Gregg County, there are 788 COVID-19 cases, including 14 deaths and 184 recoveries, according to the Gregg County Health Department.

Van Zandt County has 182 cases, including three deaths and 35 recoveries, NET Health reported.

Henderson County has 256 cases, including four deaths and 74 recoveries, according to NET Health.

Wood County has 123 COVID-19 cases, including the deaths of five Winnsboro residents and 71 recoveries, according to NET Health.

Rains County has 17 cases, including six recoveries, NET Health reported.

In Cherokee County, there are 333 COVID-19 cases, including 107 recoveries and two deaths, according to the Cherokee County Public Health Department. The two deaths are a Rusk resident and a Wells resident.

Reporter

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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