QUESTION: Why is the county no longer sharing countywide COVID - 19 information with Longview Mayor Andy Mack? Is there a reason we are not seeing daily updates on the county’s social media pages? Mayor Mack is doing a great job at providing information, but why does it seem his hands are tied by the county?
ANSWER: Mack assured me there is no issue with him getting information from the county health department. What he reports on Facebook now represents an evolution in the information that the county is able to provide.
Mack said that when COVID-19 first showed up in Gregg County, privacy concerns prevented the county from reporting where each person who tested positive lived inside the county. That means the only information he could provide at that time was countywide information. Now, the county is breaking that information down by city, and he said he focuses on the city for which he is responsible — Longview.
“There’s no issue between me and the county,” he said. “If I ask them for something they give it to me.”
He said the county provides the city of Longview daily updates on the number of positive COVID-19 tests for people who live inside the city limits as well as gender and age range and the number of people who have recovered from the illness who live in Longview. He said Fire Chief J.P. Steelman provides him that information from the county every day at 5 p.m.
That leaves the county responsible for reporting its information and other mayors in Gregg County responsible for reporting information specific to their cities, Mack said.
“I’m not the county elected official. (Reporting Longview’s numbers) is all I should be doing,” he said.
He also noted that the North East Texas Public Health District, which collects regional information at www.nethealthcovid19.org, runs behind in what it reports on its website. Also, he said the Longview numbers NET Health reports are different from his numbers because NET Health bases its reporting off whether someone has a Longview address. Having a Longview address, though, doesn’t necessarily mean a person actually lives inside the city, Mack said, and he said he reports only on cases of people who actually live inside the city limits.
I’m sorry I didn’t get a solid explanation for why the county health department’s Facebook page isn’t being updated daily. A.J. Harris, the county health department administrator, referred people to the county website. He said regular updates are being made at www.co.gregg.tx.us/coronavirus-information.
Q: I’ve heard pneumonia is a problem when you get ill with COVID-19. Should we all be getting pneumonia vaccines?
A: The pneumonia vaccines that are available help prevent certain types of pneumonia. County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne explained that people with COVID-19 illness sometimes develop a pneumonia as a secondary illness, like what happens sometimes when people are ill with the flu. Those pneumonias, though, aren’t the type that are prevented by the vaccine.
Still, pneumonia vaccines can help prevent a person from developing one of those types of bacterial pneumonia covered by the vaccine, on top of a COVID-related pneumonia.
Still, Browne doesn’t recommend everyone get a pneumonia vaccine in Texas, children younger than 15 months old typically already receive pneumonia vaccines.
He said anyone older than 60 also should have the pneumonia vaccine, as well as anyone with co-morbidity illnesses, such as asthma or other respiratory problems and diabetes.