HOUSTON – Fort Bend County Health and Human Services has confirmed the “first presumptive positive case of COVID-19,” according to a press release from the department.
The patient is a man in his 70s who recently traveled abroad and fell ill after returning to Texas, health officials said in a press conference Wednesday. The patient is currently hospitalized in stable condition. The man is the first person in Texas to test positive for COVID-19, outside of the cruise ship passengers in San Antonio.
Officials with the Houston Health Department conducted the man’s tests, which came back positive. The case is being called a “presumptive positive” while the samples are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta for confirmation. However, local officials believe the veracity of the Houston test results.
“We believe that the result is, in fact, an actual positive,” said Dr. David Persse of the City of Houston Public Health Authority. “It will undergo a confirmation process at the CDC. But at this point, we have no reason to believe that it is anything other than accurate.”
“This presumptive case is actionable and we are treating it as a positive,” officials wrote. “Fort Bend County Health & Human Services has started an epidemiological investigation and is leading the effort to quickly identify close contacts with the individual. Close contacts may include family members, co-workers, emergency responders, and other contacts.”
Citing federal HIPAA laws, health officials were tight-lipped about what country the man traveled to, what airport he returned to and when the tests were conducted. They do say at this point the situation appears to be isolated.
“As this case was associated with travel, at this time we still have no evidence of community spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jacqueline Minter of the Fort Bend County Health Authority.
“We are working around the clock with all local, regional, and statewide health authorities to monitor the situation and update the public," said Fort Bend County Judge KP George in a press release.
Officials say the situation is “rapidly evolving" and have asked residents to remain calm.
What do you do if you think you’re sick
Officials are asking people to not go to the emergency room “unless essential.” They say emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever or respiratory problems, you’re asked to contact your regular doctor first.
- 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 available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Remember to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe