Eleven healthcare workers at Houston's Memorial Hermann are under self-quarantine for 14 days after learning they were in direct contact with a patient who later tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital announced Saturday.
The patient is one of the 11 confirmed or presumed positive cases in the Houston area, all stemming from the same trip to Egypt.
Doctors said at a press conference Saturday that the patient had initially gone to one of Memorial Hermann’s healthcare facilities with mild gastrointestinal symptoms, before Egypt was a known country of concern. The patient was discharged.
“Three days later, and once it was known that passengers on the Egypt cruise had been exposed to COVID-19, one of the patients returned to one of our facilities and was tested,” the hospital wrote in a press release. “The potential exposure to our healthcare workers was related to the first visit only.”
The hospital said it continues to follow all CDC recommended screening protocols, and that the 11 workers went into self-quarantine Friday night under an “abundance of caution.”
Dr. Angela Shippy, chief medical and quality officer at Memorial Hermann, said that three of the healthcare workers are showing mild symptoms, and all have been tested for COVID-19.
She said that patients with COVID-19 in the U.S. are showing more gastrointestinal symptoms than in China, and that the CDC has updated its guidelines to reflect that.
Healthcare officials continue to urge residents to practice hygiene measures, like washing your hands and not touching your face.
In a statement Saturday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the risk from COVID-19 remains low in the Houston area.
“While I understand the concern expressed by some, based on the current situation, public health experts indicate there is no need for the general public to avoid large gatherings in Houston,” he said. “This is true of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which has taken extra measures to help ensure the health and well-being of its attendees.”
Turner said unlike SXSW, which was canceled Friday, the Rodeo is primarily a regional event, and there has been no community spread of COVID-19 in the Houston area.