DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The CDC confirmed the 14th case of the novel coronavirus in the United States on Wednesday. The patient recently returned from China to California.
The agency says it’s now preparing for the disease to “take a foothold” in the U.S. as they see more cases across the country in the coming days and months.
A potential patient with the virus could walk through the emergency room doors at any North Texas hospital, so they all have to be ready.
Medical facilities across the state are starting to get a letter from the Texas Department of State Health Services this week, outlining the best ways to deal with potential coronavirus patients. The protocol includes reporting any possible cases to the local health department.
Dallas County Health and Human Services is actively working to minimize the spread in the U.S. by practicing the same response coordination used for other illnesses, like Zika and Ebola. They’re also currently monitoring people with a travel history to China.
The DFW Airport is one of 11 airports in the U.S. receiving and screening people who have recently traveled from or through China. Many of them are now under voluntary quarantine at their homes for 14 days.
“We’re working with the airport screening activities,” said Dr. Phil Huang, the director of DCHHS. “If there are any persons that have traveled from that area, we’re doing the monitoring and contacting people and checking to make sure they don’t have symptoms – twice a day – and that they don’t have fever.”
Tarrant County Public Health is also reviewing possible locations to house travelers who have been deemed high risk for the disease.
As local health departments and hospitals get ready for any potential cases, Dr. Huang says the CDC is working to make testing for the virus available to state health departments and other labs.
Right now, if doctors suspect someone may have the virus, they have to send samples to the CDC in Atlanta. If health officials could do their own testing locally, it would help identify patients quicker.
So far, there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas.
All the good health habits people should be doing to prevent the flu – like washing their hands with soap and water – will also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus should it hit North Texas.
LETTER FROM TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES: