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First coronavirus death reported in Texas

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Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 09:05:08-04

MATAGORDA COUNTY, TX — The first coronavirus death in Texas has been reported in Matagorda County.

The Matagorda County Hospital District has confirmed that a patient, a man in his late 90s, passed away Sunday evening at Matagorda Regional Medical Center with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The patient was a resident of Matagorda County.

DSHS is investigating the source of the infection and determining who the patient came into contact with while he was sick so any close contacts can be isolated, monitored for symptoms and tested, as needed.

“We are deeply saddened today to learn that a fellow Texan has died from COVID-19,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “The First Lady and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and loved ones during their time of mourning. The State of Texas remains vigilant in our efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and will continue to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable populations and ensure that Texans have access to testing and treatment resources.”

Hospital officials were notified by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services of a positive COVID-19 test result at 6:15 p.m. on Monday, March 16.

The state has launched an investigation into the second positive case and have informed the Matagorda County Hospital District that evidence exists of a possible community link to the earlier positive case in Matagorda County.

“A death in Texas shows the gravity of the situation,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “It’s critically important for us all to take actions that will help protect our most vulnerable citizens. By working together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help ensure the health care system will be able to care for those who need it most.”

People who are 65 or older or who have an underlying health condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer have a higher risk of developing severe disease if they do get COVID-19. The safest thing for them during an outbreak is to stay home as much as possible and minimize close contact with other people. People in those groups who get sick should contact a health care provider as soon as possible and follow their instructions.

There are things everyone should do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, 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.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Public health officials are further advising residents to limit their risk of exposure by avoiding large gatherings and crowded places, practicing good personal hygiene, and continuing their own preparations in case they need to stay home for two weeks. DSHS also urges people to follow the advice of local leaders for other community actions that will help stop the spread of the disease.