Officials in Dallas and Tarrant counties have reported their first "presumptive positive" cases of coronavirus.
In the first Dallas County case announced Tuesday, the person presumed to have COVID-19 is a 77-year-old traveler from out of state who has extensive travel history, officials said in a statement. The individual is being treated in a local hospital and has been isolated. Later Tuesday, Dallas County announced that a second individual in their 50s — who came into close contact with the person in the initial case — also tested positive.
Wednesday, Dallas County health officials confirmed a third "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19 in the county. The individual, who is in their 50s, is believed to have come into contact with the virus while traveling out of state.
Elsewhere in North Texas, Collin County officials on Tuesday confirmed that three members of a Frisco family have tested positive for the virus. And in East Texas, officials say there's been a confirmed case in Gregg County.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement that the case in his county was “not unexpected” given the county's size, and that health officials were doing their due diligence.
“This test result is considered a presumptive positive until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Jenkins said. “DCHHS [Dallas County Health and Human Services] has completed contact tracing and has directly notified anyone who was in close contact with the individual while they were in Texas.”
Philip Huang, the county's health director, said Dallas County is prepared for the coronavirus.
“We have been watching the numbers increase across the U.S. and have been preparing for this event,” Huang said in a statement. “We are working with all local, regional, and statewide health authorities to monitor the situation and update the public.”
The statement said officials will not release information about the patient or the location of treatment.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the city has been preparing for weeks.
“I remain confident in our collective ability to handle these cases,” the mayor said in the statement.
Johnson advised Dallas residents to continue taking precautions by listening to public health professionals, washing their hands, avoiding contact with those who are sick and stay home when ill.
In the Tarrant County case, health officials say the patient is in isolation at a local hospital and is being monitored by staff. Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) is waiting to confirm the initial results with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The person who is presumed to have COVID-19 in Tarrant County is a resident who attended a conference in Kentucky in late February, officials said.
“We are interviewing household contacts and have identified places where this person has been and are reaching out to people possibly exposed,” Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County's public health director, said in a statement.
Tarrant County recently expanded its testing with a lab that serves Tarrant County and 33 other counties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises taking preventive actions, including:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to seek medical care.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and help young children to do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-base hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve, not your hands.
Updated March 11 at 4:45 p.m.