Friday, March 13, 2020

Houston Health Department reports city’s fourth COVID-19 case

The Houston Health Department announced Friday a new presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Houston, bringing the city’s case total to four.

The case, a female in the 70 to 80 age range, is currently experiencing mild symptoms and quarantined at home. She recently traveled to Egypt.

An investigation conducted by the department will identify potential contacts exposed to the virus. The department will provide close contacts guidance about the virus and monitor them for the development of symptoms.

On Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner signed a proclamation declaring a Local State of Disaster Due to a Public Health Emergency to help contain and mitigate COVID-19 from spreading. As a result of the emergency order, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo closed and city-sponsored, produced and permitted events will be postponed or cancelled through the end of March.

The Houston Health Department also announced Wednesday new recommendations to Houstonians aimed at reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. 
  • People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:
    • People 60 and older
    • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
    • People who have weakened immune systems
    • People who are pregnant
  • Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with the COVID-19 virus and help minimize absenteeism due to illness
  • If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.
  • The Houston Health Department is not currently recommending closing schools. If a case of COVID-19 is diagnosed at a school, the health department will work with the school and the district to determine the best measures including potential closure of the school.
  • People who are sick need to stay home to prevent infecting others.
  • Avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.
People with symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, must call a healthcare provider. People with symptoms should not go to the emergency room unless it’s a life-threatening emergency. Healthcare professionals will determine if COVID-19 is needed.

The Houston Health Department laboratory tests specimens collected by Greater Houston area medical providers from patients meeting the COVID-19 testing criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specimens that test positive are currently sent to the CDC lab in Atlanta for further confirmation, but local testing is considered actionable.

Houstonians should visit HoustonEmergency.org/COVID19 for updated information about local risk, routine protective actions, frequently asked questions, communication resources, rumor control, emergency preparedness tips and more.