HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Hidalgo County reported COVID-positive cases exceeded 18,000 between Dec. 23, 2021, until today but the numbers could be even higher due to reporting being backlogged.

Eduardo Olivarez, Hidalgo County’s Chief Administrative Officer, said the data entry of COVID test results can take time, which is causing the reported numbers to be delayed.

“Due to the numbers that we are looking at it has been very difficult to get that data entered. Our daily count does not necessarily reflect the actual positive tests,” he said.

The county has confirmed five Omicran variant cases, but Olivarez explained that the number may also be different.

“It is very important that we understand that we have a very small percentage of our overall population being tested for a variant. That’s why we have the small confirmed numbers of Omicron,” he said.

According to Olivarez, the state of Texas will select random groups of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests to determine the type of variant of a positive case.

He said although there are currently five confirmed cases he, the local health authority, and physicians believe the majority of COVID-positive cases are the Omicron variant.

Olivarez said the Texas Department of Emergency Management along with The Texas Department of State Health Services and other partners are working to coordinate a regional vaccine clinic that is still in the planning stage.

Nario Cantu, a pharmacist at Cantu’s Pharmacy said he has conducted several tests and more than half of the tests have returned positive.

He said although the pharmacy does not see a large volume of testing, he and his staff have worked to ensure the reporting is kept updated.

“For those that are doing thousands of tests every week, I can see that it can be a situation where they can easily get behind on paperwork,” he said.

Cantu said he does not have tests at the moment, but from what he has seen at his pharmacy and other locations, assistance with reporting data could be helpful.

“I can see those long lines and I can understand where that’s coming from, but yes I think it would be helpful to get those pharmacies and clinics that are in need of assistance in getting their paperwork in because this is a time-sensitive situation,” said Cantu.