Risk to Texans remains low, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, with an individual infected with the virus currently under federal quarantine at a military base in San Antonio, many in Jack County are wondering what threats are posed to the community. According to local health officials, threats of a community-wide outbreak are currently low.
“Over the last several weeks, we have been closely monitoring news reports of the coronavirus and how the threat can affect residents across the country and here at home in Jack County,” explains Frank L. Beaman, CEO of FCHS. “We continue to work under guidelines and recommendations by the CDC, as well as local, regional, and state health services regarding action plans regarding screening methods and how to respond should cases be detected in our region.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reports that the case in San Antonio does not change the risk of infection for people in the immediate area or other parts of Texas, because the patient has been under quarantine. The risk for all Texans remains low at this time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2019 novel coronavirus (formally known as COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. The virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The virus has killed 1,775 people so far and sickened more than 71,000 worldwide.
“We are continuously working with our team members and all clinical staff to make sure everyone is aware of how to respond to patients who are believed to be infected with the coronavirus,” Beaman explains. “From quarantining the patient to protecting our frontline workers, we are preparing how we should react accordingly.”
It is currently unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Although it is believed that the virus is spreading from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and rarely, fecal contamination.
Individuals who have been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. At this time, the CDC believes that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days following exposure.
The CDC has developed a new laboratory test kit for use in testing patient specimens for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. While the test is not currently available in U.S. hospitals or other primary care settings, procedures have been set in place for healthcare facilities to obtain lab specimens and submit to the CDC for testing.
Beaman says that if you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus and have recently traveled to China, or have been exposed to a sick traveler from China, within the last two weeks, you should call your primary healthcare provider.
“As recommended by the state, if you believe you might be infected with the virus, we ask that you call your doctor’s office or our local emergency department before heading to the facility,” Beaman says. “This is simply a precautionary method to prevent any potential spread.”