SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The Northeast Texas Public Health District is monitoring “multiple” people in East Texas for symptoms of the coronavirus.
According to Russell Hopkins, director of NET Health’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness, the agency, which covers a number of counties in Northeast Texas, is supervising several people daily for symptoms of the virus which is sweeping the globe.
These people are under what NET Health characterized as “self-monitoring.” They are taking their own temperatures and watching for any symptoms, then reporting that information to NET Health, which NET Health in turn sends to the Texas State Department of Health Services.
“Right now, of all the people we are monitoring, none are reporting symptoms of coronavirus,” Hopkins told KETK.
There are no confirmed cases of the virus in Northeast Texas, Hopkins said.
According to NET Health and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, “the only cases of coronavirus in Texas are in people under federal quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio in San Antonio.”
These cases do not change the risk of infection for people in San Antonio or other parts of Texas, the health agencies say, because the patients have been under federal quarantine since their return to this country from abroad and have not interacted with the public in Texas communities.
But the number of people being monitored is increasing due to the spread of the virus, Hopkins said. As more countries are impacted by the illness, they are added to travel advisories, and people coming from those countries are added to the tally of those being monitored.
Among those in East Texas being monitored, Hopkins stressed, none are showing symptoms.
Should someone become symptomatic, though, health officials have a process in place.
Russell said that if or when NET Health receives a report of someone showing symptoms, the agency would notify DHSH in Austin. That agency in turn would notify CDC.
The person would be placed in quarantine and CDC would perform testing.
Even though no cases of the virus have been reported in East Texas, Russell said his agency is being proactive.
Representatives are going to businesses and schools and encouraging employers and administrators to put together a plan to allow people to work from home and students to study at home should that be necessary.
Meanwhile, NET Health is encouraging everyone to follow proper hygiene steps to help decrease chances of contracting the virus:
- 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 cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.