Harris

Update:

The City of Baytown is now posting the number of reported cases within the city on its Facebook page, a change that was made after the Sunday print edition went to press.

In the late morning Saturday, the city posted that there were 18 persons under investigation and two persons under monitoring.

Shortly before 7 p.m., the city government posted, "We have just been informed by Harris County that there are seven (7) confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Baytown. We will continue to provide updates as we receive them.

Original article from before posting:

Would you like to know if there are any cases of COVID-19 near where you live? If you’re a Harris County resident, that’s a question easier asked than answered.

Until Friday, the City of Houston and Harris County reported separately. Beginning with Friday’s count they are reporting jointly, dividing the whole county into “quadrants.”

When the reporting first started, The Baytown Sun requested a copy of the quadrant map and received one that differed slightly from the one later published on the Harris County Health website. 

The pdf map provided by Harris County Public Health divided the northwest quadrant from the northeast quadrant at the Hardy Toll Road. The one published online moves the boundary to Interstate 45, so the whole county is split east-west by Interstate 45 and north-south by 

Interstate 10. Baytown is mostly in the southeast quadrant, with the part of the city north of Interstate 10 in the northeast quadrant.

Spokespersons from both the City of Baytown and Harris County said that Harris County Public Health does not report case counts by city, even to the cities.

Harris County Public Health spokeswoman Martha Marquez said Friday, “HCPH discloses quadrant information in order to protect our patients’ information. We also want to ensure that people know that their information will remain confidential and not prevent them from coming forward to get tested.”

When asked if HCPH would notify the Baytown mayor of cases in and around Baytown, Marquez said, “We have and will continue [to] communicate with city officials and other community partners daily during this crisis.”

Baytown city spokesman Mark Miller said, “Harris County has been reporting cases by quadrant, not by city. Therefore, the mayor and city manager have not been informed of confirmed cases in Baytown.”

He further said, “Yes, the mayor has raised the question about ID’ing cases by city with Harris County, who indicated they would continue reporting cases by quadrant.”

Most of Baytown is in the southeast quadrant, which also includes the cities of Pasadena and Deer Park, both of which post the case count from their cities on their city websites.

The COVID-19 information page on the Pasadena city website said Friday, “Once a day the Harris County Department of Health reports numbers to us. At the direction of Mayor Jeff Wagner, these numbers will be regularly updated on our website.” It reported 31 “active cases and persons under investigation” in Pasadena as of Friday.

The latest update on the Deer Park city website was from Wednesday. “The latest number of confirmed cases and persons under investigation in Deer Park, as provided by Harris County Public Health, is nine (9).”

A spokeswoman for the Harris County Judge’s Office, Melissa Arrendondo, said Friday, “The state’s Health and Safety code says results of epidemiological investigations are not public information. We are limited in describing their location based on 4 quadrants. However, we are working with lawyers on a way to notify mayors.”

Harris County, the state’s largest, is the only one of the five largest counties in the state that does not report the number of COVID-19 cases by either city or ZIP code.

Dallas County (Dallas-second largest) and Bexar County (San Antonio-fourth largest) both report the number of cases by ZIP code using ranges to protect patient privacy (1-6 cases, 7-13 cases, etc.)

Tarrant County (Fort Worth-third largest) reports cases by city.

Travis County (Austin-fifth largest) reports the actual number in each ZIP code.

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