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Am I at risk? Your questions answered about coronavirus in Harris, Fort Bend counties and the Houston area

HOUSTON – Three people are hospitalized in the greater Houston area Thursday with two confirmed coronavirus cases and one “presumptive positive” case, officials said. The two patients with confirmed cases of coronavirus are from Harris County and the patient with the “presumptive positive” case is from Fort Bend County, officials said.

All three patients are hospitalized and are in stable condition Thursday, according to officials.

Where did the patients contract the virus?

All three patients in the greater Houston area went on a trip together to Egypt and returned in late February. Health officials believe they contracted the virus on their trip but didn’t exhibit symptoms until after they returned to the Houston area.

What is a ‘presumptive positive’ case?

The Houston Health Department has newly acquired the ability to test for coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday. When the man in Fort Bend County began showing symptoms of possibly having the coronavirus, his testing was conducted in Houston. With a positive result, officials are calling his case a “presumptive positive,” while they wait for the test results to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta.

However, the positive result from the Houston lab is considered “actionable,” by health officials and the man was hospitalized. He is currently in stable condition.

Who was exposed to the confirmed and ‘presumptive positive’ patients?

The female patient from Harris County is a member of Rice University staff. School officials said she went to campus on either Feb. 24 or 25 and only went to one building. Officials say 17 members of the Rice University community was asked to self-quarantine when it was discovered that they were potentially exposed.

Ten people — family members and associates — who came in close contact with the patient from Fort Bend County have also asked to self-quarantine.

Little is known about who was potentially exposed to the male patient from Harris County.

All the people in self-quarantine are being monitored by local health officials.

If I live in Fort Bend County or the unincorporated part of northwest Harris County, am I at risk?

"Having a COVID-19 case in Texas is a significant development in this outbreak, but it doesn’t change the fact that the immediate risk to most Texans is low,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “This travel-related case reinforces the fact that we should all be taking basic hygiene steps that are extremely effective in limiting limit the spread of COVID-19 and all respiratory illnesses.”

State health officials say about 80% of coronavirus cases are mild with most people not requiring hospitalization.

“However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications,” officials wrote in a release.

Is coronavirus spreading person to person in Texas?

No. The first instance of coronavirus spreading from person to person in the U.S. occurred in January, when a 60-year-old woman from Illinois contracted the virus in China and transferred the virus to her spouse, according to the CDC. Health officials say all the cases in the greater Houston area were from travel abroad.

What is the Rodeo doing to protect attendees from coronavirus?

Officials with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo previously told KPRC 2 they are ramping up efforts to keep attendees healthy and prevent the spread of coronavirus. They said they nearly doubled the number of hand sanitizer stations available, added signage at restrooms to encourage proper hand washing and other precautions.

After news broke of new coronavirus cases in Harris County Thursday, Rodeo officials said they were not going to do anything differently beyond what they already have set up.

See all the health precautions they say they are taking here.

Should I go to the ER if I am showing symptoms?

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.

If I think I should get tested, can I?

If you think you’re sick, officials encourage you to go to your regular doctor first. Officials with the Houston Health Department said the order in which coronavirus testing will be done locally will be decided on the severity of symptoms and if the patient had traveled abroad.

Should I send my kids to school?

Houston-area school districts are outlining health safety recommendations as concerns grow regarding the spread of coronavirus. See what all the different school districts are saying about how they are responding to the threat of the coronavirus outbreak.

Do you have any questions?

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