Harris County Reports First Two Cases of COVID-19
– Harris County Public Health (HCPH) is reporting its first two confirmed cases
of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Harris County. The tests have been
verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A man and a
woman from the unincorporated area of northwest Harris County, outside the City
of Houston, tested positive for COVID-19. These cases are travel-related and,
at this time, there is no evidence of community spread.
Since the global outbreak began, epidemiologists from HCPH have been investigating and identifying all potential cases in Harris County, including these two individuals, any other individuals being tested, and any contacts with these individuals to determine if they need to be tested and/or quarantined for COVID-19. HCPH is experienced in these procedures and routinely investigates infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
These are the second and third confirmed cases reported in the Houston metropolitan area; Fort Bend County reported a presumptive positive case on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
“Since January, we have been at an elevated level of readiness to prepare for and respond to a positive case here in Harris County,” said Harris County Public Health Executive Director, Dr. Umair A Shah, MD, MPH. “We will continue to take action by identifying potential contacts and monitoring them closely.”
“The best tools to fight the spread of this illness are facts, not fear,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Residents should know that we have been leaning forward to make sure our response to this illness continues to be proactive and coordinated with a wide array of local, state and federal officials. Each of our residents is a member of our public health team, and we are urging everyone to learn the facts about this virus and take simple steps to help contain the spread by visiting www.ReadyHarris.org.”
FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – The first ‘presumptive positive’ case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Fort Bend County.
Fort Bend County Health and Human Services was notified Wednesday afternoon that a man in his seventies that lives in Fort Bend County tested ‘presumptive positive’ for COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. A presumptive positive test means it will be treated as if it is actually positive and the test will be sent to the CDC for confirmation. Officials say they are expecting to hear back about this case in one to two days.
Health officials say the man traveled abroad and got sick after he came back to the United States. Because of the ongoing investigation and HIPPA regulations, they did not say where the man traveled or where he has spent time since he has been back. He is currently in the hospital in stable condition.
“As this case was associated with travel, at this time, we still have no evidence of community spread of COVID-19. While we know this news is concerning, it is not unexpected,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Minter, the director of Fort Bend County Health and Human Services.
Officials say even with this development, the immediate risk to most of us is low. They are encouraging everyone to not go to the emergency room unless it is essential and if you are experiencing cough, fever or respiratory problems to go see your doctor. Also, it is important to practice healthy hygiene habits.
Fort Bend ISD released a statement saying they have been working with health officials to make sure they are doing what they can to prevent the spread of all communicable diseases and they will continue to disinfect campuses each day with hospital grade products.
The Houston Health Department announced there is now a way to test for the virus locally. This means results will be available in about twenty-four hours versus before, the tests were packaged and shipped to the CDC in Atlanta for testing which took about forty-eight to seventy-two hours.
“The big difference is that we are going to be able to get test results much more quickly than we have in the past several weeks. Having said that, there is still a limit to amount of tests we can run in a day. So I strongly encourage people to be patient with us as we get the testing process up and going,” explained Dr. David Persse, the Houston Public Health Authority.
Persse said they will be prioritizing the tests based on need and the description of what the patient is experiencing and if they have traveled lately.