Friday, February 14, 2020 by Ashley Lopez

Austinites are not at higher risk of getting coronavirus after first confirmed case in Texas

Austin health officials say the threat of coronavirus has not gotten any worse now that the first case has been confirmed in Texas.

Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director of Austin Public Health, said there is “virtually a zero-percent chance” of contracting the virus, now known as COVID-19, in Austin.

“That’s because the individual that was diagnosed was under federal quarantine in San Antonio,” Escott said. “We knew they had a substantially higher risk of developing the disease given their travel history and they were properly identified early, quarantined and moved into health care treatment.”

Escott said the virus is a respiratory disease much like the flu, and that the spread of the disease can be prevented if people wash their hands, refrain from touching their face and stay home when sick.

“At this stage we are much more concerned about the impact of seasonal influenza,” he said, “which has already resulted in multiple deaths in our jurisdiction and across the state.”

Jen Samp, a spokesperson for Austin Public Health, said the city has been putting together informational flyers about the virus for schools and businesses. In the meantime, local officials have been in contact with state and federal health officials.

“We are in sync and in step and in close communications with our partners – that includes our State Department and CDC,” Samp said.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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