Houston News : Fort Bend coronavirus case is first in Houston area

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Fort Bend County Judge KP George addresses the media about the confirmation of the county’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 during a press conference at the Ft Bend County Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Richmond, Texas on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. less
Fort Bend County Judge KP George addresses the media about the confirmation of the county’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 during a press conference at the Ft Bend County Homeland Security and … more

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Staff Photographer

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Staff Photographer

Fort Bend County Judge KP George addresses the media about the confirmation of the county’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 during a press conference at the Ft Bend County Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Richmond, Texas on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. less
Fort Bend County Judge KP George addresses the media about the confirmation of the county’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 during a press conference at the Ft Bend County Homeland Security and … more

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Staff Photographer

Fort Bend coronavirus case is first in Houston area

A 70-year-old Fort Bend County man has tested “presumptively positive” for the coronavirus, the first non-imported case in Texas.

The man, who recently traveled abroad, is currently hospitalized and in stable condition, officials said.

During an evening news conference Wednesday, Fort Bend County health officials cited federal privacy laws when they declined to release the man’s identity, where he traveled and where he is being treated. Harris County Public Health Executive Director Dr. Umair Shah said there is no evidence of a community spread of the pneumonia-like disease but called the latest case a “concerning development.”

Area health officials said they anticipated a diagnosis in the state.

ON HOUSTONCHRONICLE.COM: Coronavirus has come to Fort Bend and the Houston area. Here’s what we know so far.

“While we know this news is concerning, it is not unexpected,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter, director of Fort Bend County Health and Human Services. “We have watched the number of cases increase daily across the U.S., and it was just a matter of time before Texas announced its first case.”

Fort Bend County HHS said it was notified of the case at 4 p.m. Wednesday and started an investigation, including an effort to quickly identify those who came in contact with the individual. Close contacts may include family members, coworkers, emergency responders and other contacts.

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Johnson-Minter said she could not specify the man’s symptoms but urged residents to practice healthy hygiene habits. Other county officials tried to quell residents’ concerns.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we know it is concerning and unsettling for our residents,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said in a statement. “While this is a serious public health threat, we encourage residents to rely on verifiable sources of information and remain calm.”

George added that county officials will continue to provide updates Thursday as they become available.

FORT BEND ISD: District responds to development of ‘presumptive positive’ case

George and Fort Bend HHS both referred to the case as “actionable” and said they are “treating it as a positive.” The virus was diagnosed by the Houston Health Department, which announced Wednesday evening that it is now conducting testing for specimens collected by medical providers. The Fort Bend man’s specimen will now be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for confirmation.

The Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management announced it was moving to “level three” readiness, which means additional staff will be available, said Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Alan Spears. Level three is one step above normal operations, he said.

“Basically right now, there’s no immediate threat to life and property,” he said. “We’re still monitoring the situation.”

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The previous cases in Texas all involved patients imported to San Antonio. Two were repatriated from Wuhan, China — where the outbreak originated in late December — on State Department-charted flights. Eleven were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. All but one were originally quarantined at Lackland Air Force base.

One additional Diamond Princess evacuee who was infected with the virus was transferred from a San Antonio hospital to a facility out of state for medical care.

In all, at least 153 patients in 16 states have been treated for the coronavirus, known as COVID-19. Eleven of the patients have died, 10 in the state of Washington and one in California.

The number of non-imported U.S. cases grew by at least 20 Wednesday, the largest number of new cases in the U.S. yet.

The U.S. total includes 49 imported cases. The CDC is counting such cases separately than those in which the patient developed symptoms in the U.S., the vast majority of the time after returning from traveling abroad.

The U.S. numbers represent a small fraction of the cases globally. More than 90,000 people have been infected with the illness in 65 countries now, with a death toll exceeding 3,000.

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The Houston Forum

Source : chron.com