The following message from Mayor Turner to Houstonians and visitors was issued on Feb. 18, 2020. For the latest information regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), visit the Houston Emergency website. The Houston Health Department continues to closely monitor Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19. Information about COVID-19 transmission, prevention, symptoms, cases and more is available on the Houston Health Department website.
Dear Houstonains and visitors,
I continue to closely monitor the threat of novel coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city of Houston and the threat in our city remains low.
Public health officials indicate there will likely be more U.S. cases in the days and weeks to come. If a case is confirmed in Houston, we are ready to respond. The Houston Health Department routinely investigates and contains infectious diseases and is well-prepared to handle a case of COVID-19.
While COVID-19 is an evolving public health threat, based on current information, the risk to Americans remains low and there is no need for people to take out-of-the-ordinary preventative actions.
According to Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the Houston Health Department, the more serious viral threat to Houstonians right now is the flu. Every year, there are upwards of 40,000 preventable flu-associated deaths in the United States. While COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease, ways to prevent it mirror flu prevention:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Get a flu shot. Although the flu vaccine does not offer protection from novel coronavirus, this situation is a good reminder to get your seasonal flu shot if you have not already done so.
I’m aware of false rumors regarding businesses in Houston’s Asian community. Dr. David Persse reiterates there is currently no reason for people to avoid any Houston business due to concerns about COVID-19. I encourage you to support the businesses in our Asian community as many have been negatively impacted by false rumors.
- Risk in Houston is low as COVID-19 is not currently spreading in Texas or the United States.
- If you have not been around anyone with COVID-19 or have not visited an ongoing outbreak area, you are not at risk.
- The more serious viral risk to Houstonians right now is the flu.
- Handwashing, proper hygiene and staying home if sick, limit the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19.
- Travelers to outbreak areas should stay home or in a similar setting and monitor their health for 14 days after leaving China.
- People who have traveled to China in the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek medical care right away. Before doing so, call ahead to tell the healthcare professionals about recent travel and symptoms.