On Saturday, Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo announced that there were seven confirmed COVID-19 cases in Baytown, according to an update he received that afternoon from Harris County Public Health.
He said at the time the city would provide updated information on the number of confirmed cases as it was received.
In spite of Capetillo relaying the information he received from Harris County Public Health and other county cities,
including Deer Park and Pasadena reporting information received from HCPH, a spokeswoman said Monday that the information is not being released.
“HCPH is not providing information to cities, we do not know where they are getting that information from. We continue to provide case information due to communicable diseases by county quadrants,” according to Martha L. Marquez, media specialist.
City spokeswoman Alicia Jauregui said that when HCPH provided the information Saturday, no indication was given how frequently it would be updated. She said that as of Monday, Chambers County had not reported any cases of coronavirus in the part of Baytown in Chambers County (east of Cedar Bayou).
Chambers County reports cases by area: West County, Mid County and East County. Of the county’s 17 confirmed cases, 11 are in West County, which includes the areas within Barbers Hill ISD and the parts of Goose Creek CISD east of Cedar Bayou.
The number provided by the county includes people who live within the city limits or have Baytown addresses. It does not include people who do not reside here—so it would not include someone who lives elsewhere who is just tested at the testing site here or is being treated at a Baytown hospital but not a Baytown resident.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the county could not legally release the information. She continued, “However, we are working with lawyers on a way to notify mayors.”
However Marquez on Monday said, “We want to protect people’s privacy.”
Despite the Harris County question of the legality of providing more specific information, Harris County is the only one of the five largest counties in Texas that does not provide case counts by municipality or by ZIP code.
In a response to a question on its Facebook Page, Harris County Public Health said, “Patients’ home addresses do not directly correspond to risk in a ZIP code. There is community spread and everyone should take the same precautions no matter where they live.”
In a recorded phone message to Baytown residents Monday afternoon, Capetillo said, “Please remember that you can make a difference in these numbers by the actions you take. I ask that you voluntarily comply with the Harris County and Chambers County mandates to stay at home and work safe and only leave your residence when absolutely necessary.”