Tarrant County is reporting 296 new COVID-19 cases Friday along with the 191st death related to COVID-19.
Tarrant County Public Health identified the latest victim only as a man in his 70s from Fort Worth with underlying health conditions. Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, a facility managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, also announced the death of an inmate Friday, 75-year-old Robert Hoffman.
The BOP said Hoffman tested positive on May 1 and was placed in isolation. On June 8, he began showing symptoms of increased fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms. He was transported to an area hospital for treatment and died on June 10.
Hundreds of inmates at FMC Fort Worth were confirmed positive with COVID-19. The BOP confirmed Friday that 585 inmates have recovered from the virus and that there are only 29 current infections at the prison. Five staffers also are fighting the virus, though their conditions are not known. Prison officials said 11 inmates died after contracting COVID-19.
County health officials have not said whether the death announced by the county and FMC FW are the same patients.
Tarrant County Public Health said 197 of the 296 new cases reported Friday is due to a backlog in lab reporting.
“Walgreens, who is doing a lot of testing on their own, they’re dumping numbers to us and today,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. “In fact, of the 296 (cases reported by the county) they dumped 197 tests that came in just from Walgreens.”
NBC 5 reached out to Walgreens regarding any possible issue with its reporting system, but has not yet heard back.
The backlogs are also blamed on the state disease surveillance system being down for maintenance over the weekend, until Tuesday.
Most cases in the backlog go back three weeks, but Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja admitted a ‘handful’ or so are cases from April.
The 296 cases reported Friday are the second-highest total reported by the county. The highest came on May 10 when 485 cases were reported -- most of which were among inmates at FMC FW.
The county made note of the same possible issue when reporting 225 cases on Thursday, 166 cases on Wednesday and 219 cases on Monday. The latest surge in cases brings the county's total number of cases to 7,120. The greatest increase in cases Friday was in Arlington (33), Fort Worth (172) and Haltom City (10).
According to Tarrant County Public Health, an estimated 3,053 people in the county have recovered from the virus leaving 3,876 people with active infections.
Of the county's cases, 68% of those who have died were over the age of 65. Those aged 25 to 44 make up the largest percentage of people with COVID-19 at 38%.
Taneja also expressed concern about an uptick in COVID-like illnesses.
For example, “Somebody with a respiratory illness sought healthcare at a hospital ER, if you will, and you know, flu was ruled out,” said Taneja. “That leaves COVID in the mix. So it’s COVID-like illnesses is trending back up. It had been on the decline along with the flu for quite a few weeks.”
As of Friday, the county reports 1,925 available hospital beds, 425 available ventilators; of the 3,876 active cases, 209 of those people are hospitalized.
Something else that is concerning to Taneja is that hospital admissions related to COVID-19 are also on the rise.
But he said Tarrant County is well under the hospital bed capacity limit that Gov. Greg Abbott has recommended across the state.
Whitley added, “Our hospital CEO’s have assured us that they are prepared and they are not concerned because of the number of available beds they still have. They know that they’re going to be able to keep the hospitals open.”