Health officials stress the need for more timely reporting of new coronavirus cases in Houston

HOUSTON – Houston health officials urged healthcare workers and labs who are conducting coronavirus testing to not wait to report results, at a press conference Tuesday.

“We continue to have this inconsistency in the number of cases that are reported to us,” said David Persse, MD. “…The law in Texas says that when a positive result for a COVID-19 test is obtained, you are to report that to the local health department immediately.”

Persse said that seeing peaks and valleys in the numbers and getting reports with hundreds of cases that go back weeks is not helpful.

According to Persse, physicians have 10 days to report a coronavirus-related death to the local health department, but that is still too long.

“We have asked by phone calls and calling around the city and working with our partners in the medical community, we have asked (physicians) to be more prompt than that,” Persse said. “We would like to know within 24 to 48 hours so that we can make more informed decisions.”

Five new coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Houston Tuesday and of them, one person had died in March, Persse said. It is the second time they have found an unreported death by culling through death certificates for the city, he said.

“To our physicians and hospitals and other healthcare providers, please recognize the vital importance it is to our elected leaders to be able to make informed decisions based on the information that you will be providing us.”

In the graph below, KPRC 2 has kept track of new coronavirus cases reported each day since March 15:

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