MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Public health officials are investigating a case of COVID-19 near Houston with no out-of-state travel and no identified contact with another person with the coronavirus.

Montgomery County Public Health is working to determine whether there is a connection to another case or whether this is a case of community spread.

Community spread happens when a person contracts an illness from an unknown source.

“With the possibility of spread in one of our communities, now is the time to intensify our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in all our communities,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “Please continue to take personal preventive actions like washing your hands, disinfecting homes and businesses, and staying home if you’re sick. It’s also vitally important to heed the advice of local leaders because there may be calls to take broader community actions depending on the situation in your area.”

“From the very start, the state of Texas has anticipated the possibility of community spread of COVID-19, and the proactive strategies we have in place were developed with this very scenario in mind,” said Governor Abbott. “State personnel are trained and equipped to respond to this situation, and are actively working to mitigate the impact of community spread. State and agency leaders, including myself, are in constant contact with our federal and local partners to ensure that Texas communities have the resources and the most up to date information to protect public health. Texas is prepared with the necessary protocols to face this challenge, and I encourage all Texans to follow the preventative guidelines from state, federal, and local agencies.”

There are things everyone can 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.

Additionally, local authorities may implement actions like suspending large events, closing places where many residents gather, and encouraging people to keep six feet of physical separation between them. Residents should monitor the situation in their area and follow the recommendations of local leaders.

Minimizing exposure is especially important for people who are 65 or older or who have an underlying health condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer. People in those groups have a higher risk of developing severe disease if they do get COVID-19, and the safest thing for them during an outbreak will be to stay home as much as possible and minimize close contact with other people. To get ready, they should talk to their doctor about getting additional prescription medications and have enough household items and groceries on hand to stay home as needed.

Testing is available through public health and private laboratories, and capacity continues to grow. People who experience COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath should contact their health care provider and follow their instructions on being assessed.

To date, Texas has had 21 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19. DSHS is posting the latest information, guidance for the public, health care providers and others, and updating case counts daily at http://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.