Titus County Judge frustrated with COVID-19 testing process, case number reaches highest in East Texas


TITUS COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A spike in COVID-19 cases is leaving local leaders frustrated in Titus County. The county now has more positive case numbers than any other in East Texas by surpassing 300 on Wednesday.

Most of the positive numbers are related to the meat processing plant, with similar outbreaks in Panola and Shelby Counties.

“It’s rapidly going up, we still have a significant amount of outstanding tests that we have not received results from,” said Titus County Judge Brian Lee.

While thousands have been tested, most of the results haven’t come in yet due to a backlog in labs.

The county created a mobile testing site at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center two weeks ago, which Lee says they are just now receiving some of those results.

With such a sudden spike in positive cases, KETK asked Lee where he is seeing the most cases. He responded stating, “until I get the test results, I can’t even answer that question.”

Lee explains it’s hard to take aggressive action against the spread of COVID-19 if he doesn’t know where the majority of the patients are contracting the virus.

“What we would like to see is numbers coming in a lot more regularly and a lot quicker,” he said.

The delay is happening across the state as many sites are sending tests to out of state labs.

“I think it’s pockets, I don’t think it’s a statewide issue. It’s a very large operation, we’re testing tens of thousands of people a day,”‘ said Seth Christensen, with the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

Meat processing plants are also being put under the microscope. A suspected hot spot in Mount Pleasant is the Pilgram’s Pride Poultry Plant.

The company released a statement stating in part, they are “closely monitoring the coronavirus situation in the communities where we live and work.” Also increasing safety protocols, implementing “travel and visitor restrictions and enhanced sanitation efforts.”

“Pilgrim’s Pride wants to comply, they want the help of the state, they wanted to get testing done, so after disrupting that plant for two full days last week, and then we can’t even get results a week later, it makes everybody here go what’s the point,” said Lee.

Lee says every employee has been tested, and during an in-person visit, everyone was wearing a mask.

While he is waiting for more results to come in, Lee is encouraging everyone to continue doing their part by wearing a mask and making health a priority.

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