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OFFICIALS CONFIRM 14TH CASE OF CORONAVIRUS IN HOUSTON AREA

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Health officials and Rodeo officials, at press conference last Tuesday, announcing that the city and county were issuing Health State of Emergency notices for the month of March. The Rodeo closed immediately and most city events were cancelled.

Rodeo Cancelled, Stock Market Down

UPDATED – March 11, 2020 – Health Officials confirmed the second case of coronavirus in the City of Houston, and another in Montgomery County, making a total of 14 in Houston and Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery County areas. (NOTE: This number may change as days go by.)

The female patient, in the 60 to 70 age range, is part of the same group of travelers to Egypt associated with recent cases announced in Fort Bend County and Harris County. She is currently hospitalized and stable.The patient in Montgomery County has officials concerned, because he is a man in his 40s that has no known travel. He is currently hospitalized.

Harris County has established several phone numbers that the public can use to gain up-to-date information, or help reaching a healthcare professional. If you are without access to healthcare, call 713-634-1110. If you want information, call the Harris County Health Department at 832-393-4220.

HOUSTON, Texas – Harris County Public Health (HCPH) confirmed last Thursday four more cases of Coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed or presumptive to 13 in areas surrounding Harris County.

CANCELLATIONS

As a result of the health concerns, and to avoid spreading the virus, many schools and groups cancelled events. Officials announced on Wednesday that the Houston Rodeo and all other city events had been cancelled for the month of March. The Rodeo closed immediately. The Stock Market dropped 15% in a week, but slowly regained some, and then fell again.

CHANNELVIEW ISD EXPOSURE

An employee with the Channelview ISD notified the District that a member of her family was under quarantine. The School District issued a statement saying they had been in contact with state and local health officials, and indicate there is little to no risk in the Channelview schools.

The new cases involved four people in their 60s who were exposed to the virus during a trip to Egypt last month. The 70-year-old from Fort Bend took the same trip and this case was confirmed last Wednesday by a Houston laboratory.

Three of the patients with coronavirus are hospitalized in stable condition and one is self-quarantined at home with mild symptoms, health officials stated. The others cases have been resolved.

“All the cases in the Houston area have international travel in common and we’ve been actively monitoring these individuals since they were identified as being at-risk,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. However, the Montgomery County patient had no history of travel, triggering an alarm among health officials.

“I encourage Houstonians to limit international travel for the time being and heed the advice of public health officials about healthy hygiene habits. If you are feeling sick, stay at home. But do not be paralyzed by fear.”

The health department has launched an investigation to identify any potential contacts exposed to the virus. The department will provide close contacts guidance about the virus and monitor them for the development of symptoms.

“We expect to see more cases in coming days as we receive test results,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

People who recently returned to the United States from a coronavirus outbreak area need to monitor for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for at least 14 days and seek medical care right away if they develop symptoms. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, symptomatic people with a travel history to a coronavirus outbreak area must call ahead to tell the healthcare professionals about their recent travel and symptoms.

If they recommend testing, go as soon as possible to protect yourself and those around you. Testing is confidential. HCPH does not release information about suspected cases to encourage people to get tested and many people test negative.

If a person has not been around anyone with coronavirus or has not visited an ongoing coronavirus outbreak area, they are not at risk. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands;

WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE DO?

Residents should go about their daily lives, but practice every day preventative measures to avoid the spread of respiratory viruses:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning product.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%– 95% alcohol.

CDC FACEMASK RECOMMENDATIONS

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019, to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in a close setting (at home or in a health care facility).

Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

There is no need to go the emergency room unless you have a medical emergency. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.

Stay informed by visiting Ready Harris website www.readyharris.org, Harris County Public Health website www.hcphtx.org/nCov and social media channels @readyharris @hcphtx

ORIGIN OF CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that first emerged in China and has now spread to many countries, including the U.S. While HCPH understands our residents will be concerned, we also know that more than 80% of people who have become infected only experience mild to moderate symptoms and fully recover. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. People at higher risk for serious complications are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

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