It’s a puzzle that all of us are trying to work and it appears that a vital piece is missing. The puzzle is how many people have been tested and how many of those tested are positive for COVID-19 in Madison County. The missing link is the numbers being reported on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website and the passing along of that information by county officials to county residents.

The Record has confirmed two positive COVID-19 tests in Madison County. However, the ADH’s website is still showing just one. Two weeks ago, on April 8, Madison County recorded its first positive test for COVID-19 on the department’s website. The person who tested positive is Mirna Marquez, who has recovered and was released from the hospital this week. Two days after the first positive test was reported, a Meadowview Health and Rehab resident tested positive.

As of Monday, the AHD’s website shows only 62 negative tests being conducted in Madison County. Those numbers don’t add up. Madison County Medical Group had tested between 35 and 40 people and all tests had come back negative. Boston Mountain Medical Group has tested 38 patients, all of those tests also have come back negative. After the positive test at Meadowview, the facility tested the remaining residents and all employees. All but one test came back negative. The one outstanding test was lost and the person was being retested. Approximately 70 to 80 residents and employees at Meadowview were tested through an outside lab. 

It appears that far more residents in Madison County have been tested than the numbers on the ADH’s website show. Thank goodness for our local medical facilities who have remained in contact with us so that we can let county residents know the number of tests being performed and how many are positive. But, we’re also wondering if there are more cases of COVID-19 positive tests that we don’t know about. Even if a person tests positive in another county, the result is reflected in the county where the resident resides, not where the test is performed. 

County Judge Frank Weaver said he was contacted by the ADH about the first case – the one that was reported April 8 – but hasn’t been in contact with the department since that time. 

Testing is important but letting county residents know what is going on in their county is just as important. Part of stopping the spread of the virus is through social distancing, testing and if the test is positive, then through contact tracing. Judge Weaver said he didn’t know anything about the procedure that was being used in the county for contact tracing. When he was informed about the first case, he said he was not provided anything about the person testing positive. 

The lack of accurate information on the website might lead one to think that Madison County is not being affected by the novel coronavirus and encourage people to let their guards down. 

On Monday, Dr. Nate Smith, director and state health officer of the ADH, announced that 1,923 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 and 42 people had died from it. He also acknowledged that the test results were coming back faster and he encouraged those with symptoms to get tested. But, that third critical step is still missing, informing the county’s citizens. As the country moves closer to “opening up” and as the state proceeds to lessening restrictions on May 4, letting county residents know the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus and whether or not enough testing has been done is imperative.