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First possible case of community spread of coronavirus may have hit Texas in Montgomery County

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Coronavirus COVID-19 samples from patients sit in an in-tray as lab technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. PA via Reuters

Local health officials on Wednesday said they did not know how a Houston-area man who tested positive for the new coronavirus this week had become infected, suggesting the possibility of the first signs of community spread of the virus within Texas.

“It could very likely be the first community spread,” said Alicia Williams, director of the Montgomery County Public Health District.

The case raises questions about the number of unknown infections in Texas, given that government testing capacity for the COVID-19 disease remains limited.

Local officials said they were taking that possibility, seriously. Montgomery Independent School District will cancel classes beginning Thursday, ahead of spring break, an official said.

Asked how a Montgomery County man, who is in his 40s and in stable condition at a local hospital, might have contracted the virus, Melissa Miller said the case was still under investigation. “At this time I don’t have an answer to that question,” Miller, the chief operating officer of the Montgomery County Hospital District, told reporters. “Anything is possible.”

The Montgomery County case was first reported Tuesday.