COVID-19 coverage graphic

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 continues a steady climb in the East Texas region, as partial results from a mobile testing effort last week in Longview showed 11 confirmed cases in the area and Harrison, Panola, Smith, Morris and Henderson counties all reported additional cases. In addition, Titus County saw a second death.

Gregg County reported one new case Wednesday, raising its cumulative total to 184 cases.

Early, partial results released Wednesday showed at least 11 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus after three days of mobile testing last week at the Longview Fairgrounds.

Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said 206 results were pending out of 324 tests that were administered at the site Tuesday through Thursday by members of the Texas Army National Guard, who conducted the testing under guidance of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Stoudt said that so far, 107 tests showed negative results. He said he hoped to have full results soon.

The 11 positive results from the mobile testing do not add to the Gregg County total, because those people tested might live outside the county, County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the county has been investigating local cases and sharing the numbers with the state, Browne said.

However, the testing site is the opposite.

Stoudt said the state investigates where those who test positive live.

People who were tested at the fairgrounds and haven’t received results can call to check the status of their testing, Stoudt said. They can either call the Texas COVID-19 Contact Center at (512) 883-2400 and select option 2, or the Texas Department of State Health Services at (903) 533-5312.

Separate from the mobile testing, County Health Administrator A.J. Harris reported 1,821 total tests had been administered in the county as of Wednesday, with 1,519 results returning negative and 118 results pending.

The county also recorded three new recoveries Wednesday, raising that total to 57. The county has had four deaths from COVID-19.

Longview Mayor Any Mack said the new confirmed case of COVID-19 is within the city limits.

“Hopefully, it will stay low, and we’ll continue to get through this,” Mack said. “People should continue to do the only things that we know can help. It doesn’t hurt to social distance. It doesn’t hurt to wash your hands. It doesn’t hurt to stay 6 feet away from people, and it doesn’t hurt to gather in groups of less than 10. And to me, if it doesn’t hurt, it can help.”

In county jails, Stoudt said 685 inmates, deputies, jailers and jail staff were tested Wednesday morning at the North Jail, South Jail and Marvin A. Smith Facility.

Stoudt said the testing was a joint project with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to test all inmates and jailers in the state prison system. He said the state is focusing on jails with confirmed cases.

The Gregg County Jail’s Wednesday report to the jail commission showed six inmates and two jailers had tested positive for COVID-19.

Stoudt said because the virus can be asymptomatic, a jailer can have it and be around others and unintentionally spread it, which happened in Gregg County.

Gregg and Smith counties were two of the first counties to request and receive the testing, he said.

In Titus County, the state health department reported another death, raising the county’s total to two. The county has experienced a rapid rise of positive cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks, with a cumulative count of 159 as of Wednesday.

Testing of employees at the Pilgrim’s chicken processing plant was underway Tuesday and Wednesday, County Judge Brian Lee had reported.

In Harrison County, County Judge Chad Sims reported 11 additional cases of the novel coronavirus, increasing his county’s tally to 223. Sims reported Tuesday that recoveries stood at 39, with the death toll in the county at 22.

In Panola County, County Judge LeeAnn Jones reported three new confirmed cases, bringing her county’s case total to 188. Jones said one of the new patients is a nursing home resident and two are from the general public.

Smith County also saw the number of new coronavirus cases rise by three on Wednesday, according to the Northeast Texas Public Health District. The county’s cumulative total now sits at 195.

It has recorded 142 recoveries and four deaths and now has 49 active cases.

Tyler hospitals on Wednesday were treating 24 patients from East Texas for the coronavirus.

In Morris County, County Judge Doug Reeder reported one additional COVID-19 case, raising his county’s total to 14. Reeder said the patient is a 61-year-old woman. The county has had five recoveries.

“Please continue to use responsible social distancing, wash your hands and avoid large crowds when possible,” Reeder posted on Facebook.

In Henderson County, County Judge Wade McKinney said his county has confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total to 51.

Across the 25-county East Texas region, at least 2,255 cases of coronavirus had been reported as of Wednesday evening, up from 2,154 a day earlier. Across the region, 107 total deaths had been recorded Wednesday, five more from Tuesday.

— Digital Editor Scott Brunner, City Editor Belinda McCoy McLaughlin, Staff Writer Kristen Barton and the Tyler Morning Telegraph contributed to this report.