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Ector County won’t update its online dashboard this week due to limited staff

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:25 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The Ector County Health Department has about eight employees who are in charge of the COVID-19 data for the county. But those eight employees aren’t working this week, because they’ve been quarantined.

The health department is in charge of tracking and updating COVID-19 numbers, but Health Director Brandy Garcia says that doesn’t make them immune to the virus.

“The ones that are in the data entry area, that area was exposed,” Garcia said. “So, those individuals are out.”

With all those who work on data currently in quarantine, the health department has moved three employees to fill in.

“Some of our other health department employees are helping put in data,” Garcia said. “They just aren’t able to input as much as a broad number of individuals would be able to do.”

That’s the problem. With cases skyrocketing and hospitals filling up, not knowing the number of daily cases paints an incomplete picture of the issue. But Garcia says the dashboard is just one way to find the numbers.

“They can always look at the state website. Everything is also reported to the state, so the state keeps county numbers updated on their website.”

Ector County Judge Debi Hayes says getting numbers to the state is a priority over updating the dashboard.

But even those numbers are being updated slowly, with the few working on data entry logging overtime and weekends to catch up. Both Hayes and Garcia say the hope is that the dashboard will be completely updated early next week.

Before COVID, the health department had only about 10 employees. That number was upped to close 25 this summer with temporary staff. But even if the county wanted to shuffle personnel, they couldn’t. Judge Hayes says it’s difficult for other county employees to fill other roles because about 15% of the county staff either has COVID-19 or is quarantined.

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