Houston Health Department

Houston Health Department announces fifth COVID-19 case in Houston


March 14, 2020

HOUSTON — The Houston Health Department reported Houston’s fifth case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID -19) on Saturday.

The new presumptive positive case is a man in the 50 to 60 age range with a history of international travel. He is hospitalized but in good condition.

An investigation conducted by the department will identify potential contacts exposed to the virus. The department will provide close contacts guidance about the virus and monitor them for the development of symptoms.

The department’s laboratory tests specimens collected by Greater Houston area medical providers from patients meeting the COVID-19 testing criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specimens that test positive are currently sent to the CDC lab in Atlanta for further confirmation, but local testing is considered actionable.

While COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, daily precautions recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses are the same:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve.
  • Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)

People who recently returned to the United States after international travel need to monitor for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for at least 14 days and seek medical care right away if they develop symptoms. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, symptomatic people with international travel history must call ahead to inform healthcare professionals about their recent travel and symptoms.

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Privacy protection laws only permit the release of limited patient information. The health department is unable to release any additional patient information.

Houstonians may visit HoustonEmergency.org for updated information about local risk, routine protective actions, frequently asked questions, communication resources, rumor control, emergency preparedness tips and more.