NBC 5 found more than 430 babies have tested positive for the virus in the four largest counties in North Texas even though the Texas Department of State Health Services is currently only reporting 125 cases in children ages 1 and younger.
NBC 5 asked area county health departments for a breakdown of cases for children 1 and younger since March. In Collin County, the health department reports 42 cases, Denton County reports 38 cases, Tarrant County has had 113 and in Dallas, they reported 240 cases.
These cases haven’t been reported to the state but doctors say these are numbers that give a glimpse into how widespread the virus really is.
Over the weekend, Nueces County Health Department, made headlines after they reported that 85 infants had tested positive for coronavirus since March. It’s the same county where a 6-week-old baby from Corpus Christi died in June.
“We have community spread, I think people should assume there is community spread wherever they are at this point,” said Dr. Angela Moemeka, a pediatrician at MARK 9 Pediatrics.
Dr. Moemeka says many of the babies were likely tested after an adult in the home tested positive. Several local hospitals in Dallas and Tarrant counties told NBC they are testing newborns if the mother tests positive for COVID.
But the state is currently under-reporting the cases.
The latest news from around North Texas.
When questioned about the lag in reporting, a spokesman for Texas Department of State Health Services responded in an email saying, “Those are 125 cases in babies under 1 out of the 28,000 cases for which we have that information...Local health departments are understandably prioritizing doing the investigations and gathering the information rather than doing the data entry piece. They will have the most up-to-date information for their areas.”
Still, numbers aside, doctors say it's important families understand the virus is widespread and prevention is key.
“It's just looking for the next host and if we can stop the spread and break that chain, that's how we start to see that decrease in numbers and we do change the curve,” said Dr. Moemeka.
Pediatricians tell NBC 5 you should get your baby tested if you know he or she was exposed and then may have exposed others, such as grandparents, to the virus. They also say new moms, who may have been exposed should still continue nursing their babies but should wear a mask and frequently wash their hands.