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Austin-Travis County confirm 2 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus

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Posted at 5:05 AM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 08:45:20-04

AUSTIN, TX — Two presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Austin-Travis County have been confirmed by Austin Public Health early Friday morning.

According to the City of Austin, both cases are not believed to be community spread. This means the illness did not come from an infected person that they came in contact with, health officials said.

One of the patients is a man in his 60s who is currently hospitalized, Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim medical authority, confirmed at a press conference Friday. He was transferred from a different, rural hospital in a different region before he was diagnosed in Austin, APH said. He is currently in the intensive care unit.

The other patient is a woman in her 30s who is quarantined at a home in Austin, Escott said. The woman, who is not an Austin native, is believed to have contracted the virus in Houston.

“This is concerning but not surprising and we have been prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 in our area,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Medical Authority. “It is critical that the community continue to heed our recommendations and take personal hygiene seriously. This will be the key to ensuring that this virus doesn’t spread.”

The confirmation of these cases has elevated the Austin Public Health (APH) response to Phase 3 of our five-phase plan, adapted from our pandemic flu plans.

Phase 1: Persons Under Monitoring
Phase 2: Persons Under Investigation (Testing in Progress)
Phase 3: Confirmed Case (No Person-to-Person spread)
Phase 4: Limited Person-to-Person Spread (Close/Household Contacts)
Phase 5: Person-to-Person Spread in the Community

The Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center remains activated.

APH says it continues to work to enhance community preparedness and through education and the protection of our vulnerable population including people over 70 years old and those preexisting medical conditions.

APH is continuing to coordinate with our local, state and federal public health and health care partners. They continue to urge everyone to help limit the spread of disease through proper hygiene practices:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you have symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath, please contact your health care provider. It is important to call ahead before arriving at a clinic, urgent care or emergency department to avoid potential spread.