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Houston-area man tests 'presumptive positive' for COVID-19 without travel or known exposure, state health officials say

Texas has had 21 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, state health officials said.
Credit: AP

A man in his 40s is the first "presumptive positive" COVID-19 case in Montgomery County outside Houston, officials said. 

County officials confirmed Wednesday the man has not traveled out of the state or country recently. Everyone he has been in close contact with is in self-quarantine.

If the case is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this could be the first community-spread case in the area.

“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, the commissioner of the state health department. “Please continue to take personal preventive actions like washing your hands, disinfecting homes and businesses and staying home if you’re sick."

RELATED: What's a 'presumptive positive' coronavirus test?

The man is being treated at a local hospital and is isolated. The man's identity and where he is being treated has not been released.

Local officials announced Wednesday that the man had attended the Houston rodeo barbecue cook-off on Feb. 28, though he did not go to any of the concerts or other events. 

It is unclear if he was already showing signs of being sick at that time, authorities said.

Authorities also said Wednesday that Montgomery Independent School District would close early for spring break and that its campuses will undergo a "deep cleaning" during that time as a precaution. Classes are scheduled to resume March 23 following the end of spring break.

There are now at least 13 cases in the Houston area. Texas has had 21 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, state health officials said.

The "presumptive positive" test from Montgomery County has been submitted to the CDC for final confirmation.

“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 Gov. Greg Abbott in a news release. “State personnel are trained and equipped to respond to this situation, and are actively working to mitigate the impact of community spread."

Anyone who has traveled to a country that's on the CDC's restricted list is being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the United States.

Health officials are telling the public to take precautions to decrease the spread of the virus. Washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces in your house can help.

Click here for more information from the state health department.

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Health experts recommend taking the following preventative actions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US

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