The City of San Angelo Should Come Clean on COVID-19 Test ResultsOpinion
OPINION — The City of San Angelo Health Department needs to come clean on its reporting on the 500 tests administered at a “major employer.”
We are in the middle of not only the biggest health crisis for a century, but also the biggest economic crisis since Sherman burned down Atlanta and marched to the sea during the Civil War. Somehow, announcing the “number of new cases” daily has everyone on an eery death watch.
Of course no one wants to contract COVID-19. We’ve heard it makes it hard to breath for some and it might be a horrible death sentence. However, for the vast majority of those who get the disease — and most of us will or have gotten it — it is mild inconvenience. Some don’t even know they have COVID-19.
For if we were all feeling the physical effects of the coronavirus, we’d be driving through the testing centers en masse, or sitting in the waiting rooms of local health clinics with masks on hoping to get our z-pack prescriptions. But the drive-through testing areas are mostly empty. The number of tests administered were rising about 20 per day up and until a “major employer” tested 500 employees. The health department reports testing from all tests conducted in San Angelo, not just at Shannon Medical Center.
A point of emphasis is that none, zilch, zero patients are being treated in any hospital for COVID-19 here.
When one employer suspected its employees were exposed and they ordered a census test of all 500 employees, it did cause the number of COVID-19 positive results to climb substantially.
Let’s put this into perspective.
That number, 500, is 39 percent of ALL testing accomplished to date, and the results are coming back in just a couple day’s timeframe. Prior to the extra 500 test results, only about 3.4 percent of all tests were coming back positive (44 out of 1,298). As of Saturday, with 570 tests still pending, our positive count increased from 44 to 77, increasing the rate of positive test results from 3.4 percent to 3.8 percent of tests administered. There are still 570 tests results pending, so please hold onto your hats… or masks.
The City of San Angelo was quite transparent about test results up until the “major employer” popped up. What about other cities?
In the onset of the Abilene response to COVID-19, the Abilene City Council briefly flirted with the idea of withholding all information from the public by delaying or denying public information requests. The council quickly voted that idea from its city staff down, especially after the Abilene media complained. Since then, the City of Abilene has been more forthcoming about the COVID-19 testing results. In Abilene, there was a census COVID-19 test administered to all employees of the AbiMar cookie factory. We watched their returns of positive cases jump to 348. The City of Abilene was smart to reveal from where the large increase in positive tests originated, rather than slyly stating it was from a “large employer.”
Getting a positive test result should not be called a “case.” It’s only a positive result. We are creating panic in the citizenry by labeling these positive results as “cases.” No one wants to be a “case,” whether a basket case or a COVID-19 case. Receiving the news of being positive for COVID-19 shouldn’t land you in the leper colony!
Anyway, back to that mystery employer.
By not naming the “major employer” with 500 pending test results, the City is indirectly indicting every major employer with enough employees on staff to test 500 of them. Some of those large employers are retail, customer-facing businesses. This is bad for business. I wonder if the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce should say something about this?
And if the “major employer” doesn’t want itself named, it should learn from what the Kountry Time Academy accomplished after a positive case was identified there. The owners of the day care embraced the positive result, sanitized and cleaned the facility, waited 14 days, and re-opened responsibly. No one can fault them for not taking extra precautions. Likewise, no one will fault the “major employer” for taking the precautions of testing every employee.
The public has a right to know from where the most drastic increase in positive COVID-19 test results since the pandemic began are originating.
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