Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Updates

The Stay Home, Work Safe Order requires individuals to remain at home or a place of residence, with exceptions for essential work and activities.

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COVID-19 Cases in Houston: 309;  Recoveries: 3;  Deaths: 3

HOUSTON COVID-19 CASE DEMOGRAPHICS

The City of Houston is developing an online dashboard to provide an overview of the city’s COVID-19 cases, with data such as total cases, gender, age groups, recovery status, and deaths. In the interim, the Houston Health Department reports the following demographic data, based on the March 30 data of 309 reported cases:

  • Gender
    • Male: 50%
    • Female: 50%
    • Unknown: 0%
  • Ages
    • 0-19 years: 3%
    • 20-29 years: 14%
    • 30-39 years: 22%
    • 40-49 years: 20%
    • 50-59 years: 14%
    • 60-69 years: 16%
    • 70-79 years: 7%
    • 80-89 years: 3%
    • 90 and over: 0%
    • Unknown: 1%
  • Deaths
    • March 23: Female | Age 60-70 | Underlying Health Conditions
    • March 27: Female | Age 70-80 | Underlying Health Conditions
    • March 29: Female | Age 70-80 | Underlying Health Conditions

WHAT DOES HARRIS COUNTY'S STAY HOME, WORK SAFE ORDER MEAN?

The information below is from ReadyHarris.org/stay-home. Please visit the website for the full order.

What does Harris County’s Stay Home, Work Safe Order mean for my community?

This is not intended to be a complete list of business types that are impacted. Please seek legal counsel if you are unsure if a certain business, service, or function is considered essential.

What is Open?

  • Essential Government Functions
  • Essential Businesses (see below)
  • Restaurants that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Bars that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Micro-Breweries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Micro-Distilleries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Wineries that serve food by take out, delivery or drive-through
  • Public Parks
  • Open Outdoor Recreation Areas
  • Religious and Worship Services by Video and Teleconference

What is closed, for now?

  • Playgrounds
  • Gyms
  • Fitness Centers
  • Swimming Pools
  • Sports and Recreation Training Facilities and Studios
  • Hair and Nail Salons
  • Spas
  • Licensed Massage Businesses
  • Tattoo Parlors
  • Concert Halls
  • Live Performance Theaters
  • Arenas
  • Stadiums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Game Rooms
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Arcades
  • Indoor and Outdoor Flea Markets and Swap Meets
  • Indoor Malls and Shopping Centers
  • Bingo Halls

Essential Activities are:

  • Performing tasks essential to health and safety, including: obtaining medication or visiting a healthcare professional
  • Obtaining supplies or services or delivery of those to others, including: food, pet supplies, household products, work from home supplies
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, while keeping social distancing
  • Performing work providing essential products and services to an essential business
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household.

Essential Businesses include:

  • Critical Infrastructure as identified by the US Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • Essential Government Functions including law enforcement, and other services for the health, safety and welfare of the public
  • Essential Healthcare Operations including hospitals, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, mental health providers, blood banks, home and residential based care for seniors, adults and children, veterinary and animal welfare operations
  • Essential Retail including grocery stores, warehouse stores, gas stations, convenience stores, food producers and service providers
  • Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations
  • Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses including: trash and recycling collection, mail and shipping services, building maintenance and security, and funeral homes
  • News Media
  • Childcare and Adult Care Services
  • Infrastructure, Development, Operation and Construction Services including public works construction, housing construction, commercial, manufacturing, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, and telecommunications systems
  • Transportation Businesses including car dealerships, parts distributors, maintenance and repair facilities, gas stations, vehicles for hire
  • Labor Union Functions
  • NASA and Port of Houston
  • Airports and related operations
  • Professional services including legal, accounting, insurance, and real estate services.
  • Other businesses that are not listed but either are or support critical industries or services.

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDANCE FOR ALL HOUSTONIANS

Social Distancing Guidance for all Houstonians

  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical care situations.
  • Practice healthy hygiene habits:
    • 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 with unwashed hands.
    • 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, especially if you are at higher risk for coronavirus.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
  • If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.
  • Stay informed. Information is changing frequently. Visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 frequently for updates.

People at higher risk include:

  • People 60 and older.
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
  • People who have weakened immune systems.
  • Pregnant women.

Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home. Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for novel coronavirus should consult with their healthcare providers.

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.

COMMUNICATION RESOURCES (flyers)

Visit the following page for communication resources (flyers) in more than a dozen languages.

https://houstonemergency.org/covid19translated/

Updates- March 30, 2020

Houston Health Department reports additional COVID-19 death, 23 new cases

The Houston Health Department reported 23 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the city's total to 309. The department also reported a new COVID-19 death, bringing Houston's total deaths to three.  Read the News Release

Updates- March 29, 2020

Houston Health Department announces 54 new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced 54 new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Sunday, bringing the city's total to 286. Houston's COVID-19 deaths remain at two as no new deaths were reported Sunday.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 28, 2020

Houston Health Department confirms Houston’s second COVID-19 death; 163 new case reports

The Houston Health Department reported Saturday the second coronavirus (COVID-19) death in Houston. The department also announced 163 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 232. The jump in cases is a result of a batch of reports received by the department from area medical providers.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 27, 2020

Houston Health Department reports COVID-19 cases total 69

Houston’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases total 69 after the recording of the city’s first death from the illness, the Houston Health Department reported Friday.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 26, 2020

Houston Health Department reports Houston’s first COVID-19 death

The Houston Health Department reported Thursday the first coronavirus (COVID-19) death in Houston. The resident was a woman with several underlying health conditions in the 60 to 70 age range. She died at a local hospital Tuesday, March 24. The department received test results today confirming the woman as a COVID-19 case.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department reports two new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced two new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Thursday, bringing the city’s total to 68.  Read the News Release

New information on HPARD curbside meal distribution program 

In the wake of the Houston Independent School District’s decision to shut down its food distribution program, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department is clarifying how our Curbside Meal Program for Youth operates.   Read the News Release

Mayor Sylvester Turner thanks local businessman for donating hand sanitizer to the City of Houston

Mayor Sylvester Turner today accepted 15,000 bottles of hand sanitizer generously donated by prominent Houston businessman Dr. Farouk Shami, Founder and Chairman of Farouk Systems, Inc.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 25, 2020

Houston Health Department reports 11 new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced 11 new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 66.  Read the News Release

City of Houston Municipal Courts suspend all trials (jury and judge), jury duty, arraignments, hearings, and parking adjudication hearings to promote safe distancing in response to COVID-19

In an effort to continue to encourage the health and safety of the public and court staff members from the spread of the COVID-19, the City of Houston Municipal Courts Department has suspended ALL JURY AND JUDGE TRIALS, JURY DUTY, ARRAIGNMENTS AND PARKING ADJUDICATION HEARINGS through Friday, May 1, 2020. The Court remains open for all other proceedings. Read the News Release 

Updates - March 24, 2020

Mayor Turner asks Houstonians to follow “Stay Home, Work Safe” order

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and local health officials Tuesday to announce details of a Stay Home, Work Safe” Order issued by Harris County that requires individuals to remain at home or a place of residence, with exceptions for essential work and activities.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department reports 31 new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced 31 new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 55. The one-day spike is a result of a batch of reports received by the department from commercial laboratories.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 23, 2020

Mayor Turner accepts donation of $42,000 in medical supplies from Asian American Chamber of Commerce to help with city’s COVID-19 response

The Asian American Chamber of Commerce donated Monday over $42,000 in medical supplies t the City of Houston following our urgent calls for personal protective equipment.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department reports two COVID-19 recoveries and one new case

The Houston Health Department announced Monday the first COVID-19 recoveries in the city. A man and woman in the 60-70 age range, the city’s first two COVID-19 cases, are considered recovered from the disease after each tested negative twice more than 24 hours apart.

The health department also announced a new positive COVID-19 case, bringing the city’s total to 24. The case, a female in the 20 to 30 age range, has no known travel history. She is recovering at home.  Read the News Release

New guidelines for Houston City Council meetings

As the City of Houston and local health professionals work to blunt the progression of COVID-19, Mayor Sylvester Turner has implemented new guidelines for Houston City Council meetings to comply with social distancing requirements.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department providing core services with temporary modifications

To help contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Houston Health Department modified some services to protect the health and well-being of the community.   Read the News Release

HPARD to begin curbside meal distribution program for youth at 47 community centers

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department will begin a Curbside Meal Program for Youth, ages 1 to 18, beginning on Monday, March 23rd. The Curbside Meal distribution of a snack and lunch will take place Monday-Friday from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. On Monday, March 23rd, a total of 50 meals will be available at each site. This may increase to up to 200 per site based on participation.  Learn More

Updates - March 22, 2020

Hundreds tested for COVID-19 during first days of Houston’s community-based testing site; services continue for high-risk symptomatic people

More than 500 high-risk symptomatic people were tested for COVID-19 at Houston’s first community based testing site during its first three days of operation. The free drive-thru site was launched by the Houston Health Department and local medical community on Friday, March 20.

Services will continue Monday, March 23 for symptomatic medical professionals, first reponders, people 65 and older, and people of any age with chronic illnesses. Cough, difficulty breathing, and fever are the common COVID-19 symptoms.

People meeting the criteria can continue to call the Houston Health Department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to get screened. They will receive a unique identification code and instructions on where to go for testing.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department reports new COVID-19 case

The Houston Health Department announced a new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case on Sunday, bringing the city’s total to 23.

The case, a male in the 30 to 40 age range recently traveled to Idaho. He is recovering at home.  Read the News Release

City of Houston currently providing quarantine accommodations for four firefighters

The City of Houston has secured safe and secure accommodations for four Houston firefighters who were exposed to COVID-19 and were not able to quarantine at home.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 21, 2020

Houston’s COVID-19 site broadens testing to symptomatic people with chronic illnesses

Houston’s first free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site will broaden services to people of any age with chronic illnesses on Sunday, March 22.

People with chronic illnesses experiencing cough, difficulty breathing and fever, the common COVID-19 symptoms, can call the Houston Health Department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to get screened. They will receive a unique identification code and instructions on where to go for testing.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department reports three new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department reported three new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID -19) cases Saturday, bringing the city’s total to 22.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 20, 2020

First Houston COVID-19 testing site expands to older adults with symptoms

The first free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Houston will expand services on Saturday, March 21, 2020, to symptomatic people age 65 and older.  Read the News Release

Mayor Sylvester Turner asks authorities to investigate false social media posts; assures residents the city of Houston is not shutting down over the weekend

The City of Houston is not shutting down over the weekend because of COVID-19. Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking Houstonians to get their information from credible sources such as HoustonEmergency.org and to ignore false social media rumors designed to create anxiety and confusion.  Read the News Release 

Houston Health Department reports eight new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department reported eight new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID -19) cases Friday, bringing the city’s total to 19.  Read the News Release

Houston Permitting Center moves services

The Houston Permitting Center is moving most services online beginning Monday, March 23. Read the News Release

Houston Health Department makes two respectful asks of news media

As we all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of people infected, we have two respectful asks of news media.

  1. Please do not report the locations of our drive-thru testing sites. This will help prevent people from showing up and being turned away because they did not complete the screening process. It will also help reduce the risk of exposure and further spread.
  2. Please refrain from showing close images of the centers when they are operational. Close images of people or vehicles may lead to individuals being identified and discourage other symptomatic people from participating, furthering spread.

Houston Health Department, Medical Community Open First COVID-19 testing site for high-risk symptomatic people

The Houston Health Department and local medical community, including members of the Texas Medical Center, opened Friday the first of four free COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites for high-risk symptomatic people.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 19, 2020

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders In Accordance With Federal Guidelines To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas

Governor Greg Abbott today announced a series of Executive Orders relating to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation. The four orders serve to limit public gatherings and help reduce exposure for people across the state.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department announces new COVID-19 case

The Houston Health Department announced a new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case on Thursday, bringing the city’s total to 11.

The case, a female in the 50-60 age range, is hospitalized. She has no known travel or exposure history.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 18, 2020

Update- March 18, 2020

Mayor Turner seeks federal support for the restaurant, bar and nightclub industry

While the City of Houston works to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Sylvester Turner urges federal leaders to assist restaurant, bar, and nightclub owners and employees who may be devastated by a loss in business.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department announces five new COVID-19 cases

The Houston Health Department announced five new positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID -19) cases on Wednesday, bringing the city’s total to 10.   Read the News Release

SBA disaster recovery assistance- informational webinars

The SBA Houston District Office provides information to help small businesses with their economic recovery from the effects of Coronavirus. SBA offers information on how to apply and where you can get additional help with preparing and applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan.  Learn More

Updates - March 17, 2020

Rumors of health department testing sites opening March 18 are FALSE

The Houston Health Department is working with community partners to establish COVID-19 testing sites. Details will be announced when finalized.

Despite reports, the sites are NOT scheduled to open on March 18. Please DO NOT show up to a location you may have heard is a testing site. You will not be tested, and your presence could unintentionally put others at risk, cause delays, and interrupt the healthcare professionals who are working expeditiously to open the sites.

People currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms need to contact their medical provider.

Houston Public Library extends suspension of onsite service through March 2020

All Houston Public Library locations will be closed through the end of the month in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The closures come in response to directives from Mayor Sylvester Turner as well as Harris County and federal guidelines.  Read the News Release 

City extends Emergency Disaster Declaration; Mayor Turner cancels city events through April and announces new public meeting guidelines

In a special called meeting Tuesday morning, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council members voted to indefinitely extend the proclamation of a local state of disaster due to a public health disaster for the City of Houston.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 16, 2020

Mayor Turner announces changes to operating procedures for city of Houston bars, nightclubs and restaurants; Houston Health Department broadens COVID-19 social distancing guidance for all Houstonians

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and local health officials Monday afternoon to announce new measures to help contain and mitigate COVID-19.

Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo ordered bars and nightclubs to close and food-service establishments to stop in-service dining for 15 days, effective at 8 a.m. on March 17, 2020.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department closing birth and death record office to public until further notice due to COVID-19

The Houston Health Department will close its Bureau of Vital Statistics (birth and death records) office to the public until further notice, effective March 17, 2020. The closure is a measure to help contain and mitigate COVID-19 spread.  Read the News Release  

Houston Public Library temporarily suspends service to implement COVID-19 procedures

Houston Public Library has suspended service at all locations until further notice. This suspension also includes all public programs and events.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 15, 2020

Library Closures – All Neighborhood Libraries and Special Collections

Houston Public Library temporarily suspends service to implement COVID-19 procedures.  Read the News Release

Mayor Turner joins Gallery Furniture’s Mattress Mack to assist vulnerable communities 

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee today to announce a donation drive to assist Houston’s most vulnerable populations during the city’s response to COVID-19.  Read the News Release

City of Houston Municipal Courts – No jury trials and no jury duty

In an effort to continue to encourage the health and safety of the public and court staff members from the spread of the COVID-19, the City of Houston Municipal Courts Department has suspended all  jury trials and jury duty during the period of Monday, March 16, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 14, 2020

Houston Health Department reports Houston’s fifth COVID-19 case

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.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 13, 2020

Houston Health Department reports Houston’s fourth COVID-19 case

The Houston Health Department announced Friday a new presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Houston, bringing the city’s case total to four.

The case, a female in the 70 to 80 age range, is currently experiencing mild symptoms and quarantined at home. She recently traveled to Egypt.  Read the News Release

Mayor Turner hosts conference call for Houston faith leaders

During a conference call Friday morning  with Houston faith leaders, Mayor Turner provided a list of recommendations for those who had questions about holding regularly scheduled religious services over the weekend.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 12, 2020

Mayor Turner addresses false COVID-19 information on social media

At a news conference Thursday to update the public on the city of Houston’s response to containing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Sylvester Turner also addressed false information that some are sharing on social media.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 10, 2020

Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health, Fort Bend Health & Human Services joint statement

The Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health, and Fort Bend County Health & Human Services only identify locations related to infectious disease investigations when there is a public health risk associated with a location. This is true not only of our COVID-19 investigations, but the 115,000+ disease investigations our department conduct annually.

Currently, there are no general public health risks associated with locations affiliated with our region’s current COVID-19 cases.

Based on CDC guidelines, simply being in the same building or indoor environment as a COVID-19 patient is not a risk. As such, passing by someone in an airport or other location does not represent a risk. People seated within six feet of an infected person on an aircraft are identified by the airlines and CDC and notified by their local health department. If an airline passenger has not been notified, they were not seated within six feet of an infected plane passenger and are not considered to be at risk.

Public health departments routinely conduct contact investigations to identify people who are potentially at risk and contact them directly, as a standard infectious disease procedure. Public health actions are guided by science, based on duration and distance of potential exposure.

While patient privacy is a reason for this standard practice, it is not the sole reason. Publicly identifying a location without an immediate risk (as per CDC guidelines) can create unnecessary, often confused, alarmed public reaction. Confusion and panic can be damaging to facts, dangerous, and difficult to reverse. Furthermore, managing confusion or panic takes vital public health resources away from identifying and monitoring people who are actually at risk.

We will continue to let science, not fear, drive our public health decisions. It’s the best way to keep the public informed with factual information.

Dr. David Persse’s invited testimony to Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority, provided invited testimony to Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health regarding our COVID-19 response activities. Read the Testimony

Updates - March 11, 2020

Houston Health Department reports Houston’s third COVID-19 case

UPDATE: On Wednesday night, the Houston Health Department reported the city’s third positive COVID-19 case.

The case, a female in the 15 to 25 age range, is experiencing mild symptoms and self-quarantined. The case is travel-related through direct contact with a known case in New York state and there is no evidence of local community spread. Read the News Release

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo declare public health emergency due to COVID-19

Mayor Sylvester Turner today signed a proclamation declaring a Local State of Disaster Due to a Public Health Emergency to help contain and mitigate COVID-19 from spreading. As a result of the emergency order, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo will close down immediately and city-sponsored, produced and permitted events will be postponed or cancelled through the end of March.  Read the News Release

What you need to know about COVID-19 community spread

The Houston Health Department is taking proactive steps to protect the health of our community by making recommendations that are meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and reduce the number of people infected. English | Español | አማርኛ | عربى |  ဗမာ | 中文 | دری | فارسی | Français | پښتو | Kiswahili | ትግርኛ | Tiếng Việt 

Updates - March 11, 2020

Houston Health Department reports Houston’s third COVID-19 case

UPDATE: On Wednesday night, the Houston Health Department reported the city’s third positive COVID-19 case.

The case, a female in the 15 to 25 age range, is experiencing mild symptoms and self-quarantined. The case is travel-related through direct contact with a known case in New York state and there is no evidence of local community spread. Read the News Release

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo declare public health emergency due to COVID-19

Mayor Sylvester Turner today signed a proclamation declaring a Local State of Disaster Due to a Public Health Emergency to help contain and mitigate COVID-19 from spreading. As a result of the emergency order, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo will close down immediately and city-sponsored, produced and permitted events will be postponed or cancelled through the end of March.  Read the News Release

What you need to know about COVID-19 community spread

The Houston Health Department is taking proactive steps to protect the health of our community by making recommendations that are meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and reduce the number of people infected. English | Español | አማርኛ | عربى |  ဗမာ | 中文 | دری | فارسی | Français | پښتو | Kiswahili | ትግርኛ | Tiếng Việt 

Updates - March 10, 2020

Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health, Fort Bend Health & Human Services joint statement

The Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health, and Fort Bend County Health & Human Services only identify locations related to infectious disease investigations when there is a public health risk associated with a location. This is true not only of our COVID-19 investigations, but the 115,000+ disease investigations our department conduct annually.

Currently, there are no general public health risks associated with locations affiliated with our region’s current COVID-19 cases.

Based on CDC guidelines, simply being in the same building or indoor environment as a COVID-19 patient is not a risk. As such, passing by someone in an airport or other location does not represent a risk. People seated within six feet of an infected person on an aircraft are identified by the airlines and CDC and notified by their local health department. If an airline passenger has not been notified, they were not seated within six feet of an infected plane passenger and are not considered to be at risk.

Public health departments routinely conduct contact investigations to identify people who are potentially at risk and contact them directly, as a standard infectious disease procedure. Public health actions are guided by science, based on duration and distance of potential exposure.

While patient privacy is a reason for this standard practice, it is not the sole reason. Publicly identifying a location without an immediate risk (as per CDC guidelines) can create unnecessary, often confused, alarmed public reaction. Confusion and panic can be damaging to facts, dangerous, and difficult to reverse. Furthermore, managing confusion or panic takes vital public health resources away from identifying and monitoring people who are actually at risk.

We will continue to let science, not fear, drive our public health decisions. It’s the best way to keep the public informed with factual information.

Dr. David Persse’s invited testimony to Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority, provided invited testimony to Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health regarding our COVID-19 response activities. Read the Testimony

Updates - March 9, 2020

Houston Health Department sets up COVID-19 call center for Houstonians

The Houston Health Department is operating a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call center for Houston residents needing more information COVID-19.

Houstonians can call the center at 832-393-4220 to speak to department staff and obtain information about the disease or get their questions answered.

The call center will open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Read the News Release

Updates - March 8, 2020

Statement on Senator Cruz’s self quarantine 

As Senator Cruz announced Sunday night, he decided to self-quarantine after being notified a person he briefly interacted with at a conference more than a week ago has since tested positive for COVID-19. Given the interaction was ten days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was less than a minute and that Senator Cruz is experiencing no symptoms, the likelihood of transmission to Senator Cruz is extremely low.

As such, the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public want to assure people  who met and shook hands with Senator Cruz at an event in Houston on Saturday that they are not at increased risk and do not need to take any action. Senator Cruz’s decision to self-quarantine was a decision he made out abundance of caution.

Local health departments ask passengers of Egypt Nile River cruise to self-quarantine, contact local health department

The Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health and Fort Bend County Health and Human Services ask any local residents who recently traveled to Egypt and took a Nile River cruise to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days and contact their local health department.

On March 5, 2020 the M.S. A’sara cruise traveling to and from Aswan, Egypt was quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. Local health departments are seeking M.S. A’sara passengers from the Greater Houston area who traveled on the cruise line from February 12 to March 5, 2020 because they may have been exposed to COVID-19.  Read the News Release 

Updates - March 7, 2020

Mayor Turner’s update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) for Saturday, March 7

“I know Houstonans are concerned about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), especially with the recent positive cases identified in our area. It’s important to note that all cases in our area thus far are linked by international travel and there is no evidence of community spread. For the general public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 remains low.

“While I understand the concern expressed by some, based on the current situation, public health experts indicate there is no need for the general public to avoid large gatherings in Houston. This is true of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which has taken extra measures to help ensure the health and well-being of its attendees….”  Read Mayor Turner’s Full Statement

Updates - March 6, 2020

Houston Health Department reports city’s second case of coronavirus disease 2019

The Houston Health Department reports the second case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the city of Houston. The new case is travel-related and there is no evidence of community spread.

The female patient, in the 60 to 70 age range, is part of the same group of travelers to Egypt associated with recent cases announced in Fort Bend County and Harris County. She is currently hospitalized and stable. Read the News Release

Updates - March 5, 2020

Houston Health Department report’s city’s first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019

The Houston Health Department announced today the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the city of Houston. The case is a male in the 60 to 70 age range with a history of international travel.

The man is experiencing mild symptoms and is self-quarantine at home. He is part of the same group of travelers to Egypt associated with recent cases announced in Fort Bend County and Harris County. There is no evidence of community spread. Read the News Release 

What you need to know about COVID-19 in the Houston area

Although COVID-19 has reached the Houston area, there is currently no evidence of community spread. English FAQs | Spanish FAQs  | Vietnamese FAQs | Chinese FAQs

Harris County reports first two cases of COVID-19

Harris County Public Health is reporting its first two confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Harris County. The tests have been verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A man and a woman from the unincorporated area of northwest Harris County, outside the city of Houston, tested positive for COVID-19. These cases are travel-related and, at this time, there is no evidence of community spread.  Read the News Release

Updates - March 4, 2020

What you need to know about the Fort Bend County COVID-19 case

Houstonians should go about their daily lives, but take certain precautions. Read More

Mayor Turner’s statement on presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Fort Bend County

“I know many Houstonians may feel anxious after learning of the presumptive positive COVID-19 Fort Bend County resident. I want to assure everyone that the city of Houston Health Department  is closely monitoring the developments and collaborating with regional, state and federal health authorities.”  Read Mayor Turner’s Statement 

Texas Department of State Health Services announces travel-related COVID-19 case in Fort Bend County

The Texas Department of State Health Services and Fort Bend County Health and Human Services are reporting the first positive test result for COVID-19 in Texas outside of the passengers returned under federal quarantine from Wuhan City, China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The patient is a resident of Fort Bend County who recently returned from travel abroad and is currently isolated in the hospital.  Read the News Release

Houston Health Department laboratory now conducting local COVID-19 testing

The Houston Health Department laboratory is now conducting COVID-19 testing for specimens collected by medical providers from patients who meet CDC COVID-19 testing criteria.

In most cases, COVID-19 results are expected within 24 hours of arrival of specimens to the health department lab, which serves at the regional public health laboratory for a 17-county region of Southeast Texas. Read the News Release 

Updates - March 3, 2020

The Houston Health Department is in regular communication with local organizations and venues regarding precautions to help protect people from respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. Health department guidance includes ensuring an adequate supply of hand soap and disinfectants, conducting environmental cleaning, providing hand sanitizing stations, placing signage to remind people to practice healthy hygiene habits, and reviewing infectious disease protocols.

The threat of COVID-19 to the general public in Houston remains low and there is currently no need to cancel local events or classes. Accordingly, there is no current need for residents and visitors of Houston to take out-of-the-ordinary precautionary actions against COVID-19.

People should practice routine healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.

The Houston Health Department routinely investigates and contains infectious diseases and is well-prepared to protect the public if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in our community. Infectious disease investigations include tracing and notifying contacts and implementing control measures, as needed, to contain the spread of disease.

There are currently zero cases of COVID-19 in Houston or Harris County. However, people need to remain vigilant given the rapidly evolving nature of this public health threat and the expectation there will be additional cases in the United States. To stay-up-to-date with the latest recommendations visit HoustonEmergency.org.

Updates - March 1, 2020

Joint statement from Harris County Public Health and Houston Health Department:

A person at Rice University is currently self-quarantined under the guidance of Harris County Public Health as the department conducts an infectious disease investigation.

Public health departments, such as Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department,  routinely investigate infectious diseases and take preventative measures, based on CDC guidance, to minimize the spread of disease. Infectious disease investigations may include guidance for potential contacts of a person under investigation to self-quarantine.

There are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city of Houston or Harris County. The Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health report only confirmed cases of infectious diseases and will promptly inform the public if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in our community.

People should practice healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.

The threat of COVID-19 to Houston and Harris County remains low and there is no need for the public to take additional precautionary actions at this time.

UPDATE 1: There are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Houston or Harris County. If a case is confirmed in our community, the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health will promptly inform the public.

Joint statement from Harris County Public Health and Houston Health Department:

A person at Rice University is currently self-quarantined under the guidance of Harris County Public Health as the department conducts an infectious disease investigation.

Public health departments, such as Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department,  routinely investigate infectious diseases and take preventative measures, based on CDC guidance, to minimize the spread of disease. Infectious disease investigations may include guidance for potential contacts of a person under investigation to self-quarantine.

There are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city of Houston or Harris County. The Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health report only confirmed cases of infectious diseases and will promptly inform the public if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in our community.

People should practice healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.

The threat of COVID-19 to Houston and Harris County remains low and there is no need for the public to take additional precautionary actions at this time.

UPDATE 1: There are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Houston or Harris County. If a case is confirmed in our community, the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health will promptly inform the public.

Updates - Feb. 26, 2020

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Houston or Harris County.

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s public health authority, provided an update on the Houston Health Department COVID-19 response during Mayor Turner’s regularly-scheduled post-city council media availability on Feb. 26, 2020.

Updates - Feb. 17, 2020

There are currently no confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Houston or Harris County.

If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in our community, the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health will promptly inform the public.

Updates - Feb. 11, 2020

There are currently no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Houston or Harris County.

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) provide primary care services, even if you don’t have health insurance. You pay what you can afford, based on your income. FQHCs do not deny services due to inability to pay. There are many FQHC locations in the Houston area.

Updates - Feb. 3, 2020

Houston Health Department

There are currently no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Houston or Harris County.

While 2019 novel coronavirus is an evolving public health threat, based on current information, the risk to our community remains low and there is no need for average Houstonians to take out-of-the-ordinary preventative actions.

“The real viral threat to Houstonians right now is the flu,” said Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the Houston Health Department. “Every year, there are upwards of 40,000 preventable flu-associated deaths in the United States.”

People can help stop the spread of the flu and other illness by:

  • getting a flu shot;
  • washing hands frequently;
  • avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth;
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • staying home when sick;
  • covering coughs and sneezes;
  • cleaning and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If a case of 2019 novel coronavirus is confirmed in our community, the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health will promptly inform the public.

More information about 2019-nCoV travel advisoriestransmissionprevention and symptoms is available from the Texas Department of State Health Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also offers a list of frequently asked questions.

Houston Airport System

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has directed all flights from China, and all passengers who have traveled to China within the last 14 days, to be routed through one of eleven airports,  which do not include any airports in Houston.  Therefore, CDC has informed Houston Airports that the previously announced enhanced screenings of passengers will not occur at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

CDC officials at Bush Airport routinely conduct screenings of passengers at Bush Airport, which will continue as a part of normal operations. Houston Airports stands ready with federal, state and city of Houston partners to ensure our community is protected. We are closely monitoring the latest developments and will post updates on fly2houston.com and our social media channels. 

Updates - Jan. 29, 2020

Mayor Turner joined Houston Health Department Local Health Authority Dr. David Persse and Houston Airport System representatives on Jan. 29 to provide an update on the City of Houston’s response to novel coronavirus.

Updates - Jan. 28, 2020

  • Update 2: RUMOR CONTROL: The Houston Health Department has not taken action to close any business related to novel coronavirus. Additionally, there is no current reason for people to avoid any local business due to concerns about novel coronavirus.
  • Update 1: At this time, there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Houston. As a preventative measure, CDC will expand screenings to 15 additional airports, including George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The City of Houston continues to work closely with CDC as logistics are still being finalized. At this time, Houston is waiting for further guidance on when screenings will begin. The City of Houston continues to stand ready with our partners to ensure our community is protected. We are closely monitoring the latest developments and will post updates here and on our social media platforms, @houstonhealth on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Update 3: There are currently no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in Houston or Harris County. The Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health only report confirmed cases of infectious disease and will promptly do so in the event of a confirmed case of 2019 novel coronavirus.

Update - Jan. 27, 2020

The Houston Health Department, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services and other public health officials, continues to monitor an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

DSHS reports no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Texas at this time. While this is a serious public health threat, based on current information, the risk to the general American public is low.

Prevention

While Wuhan coronavirus is a new respiratory virus, ways to prevent respiratory illness are the same:

  • 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.

Travelers

CDC advises travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China.

  • Travelers to Hubei Province, China
    • Avoid contact with sick people.
    • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    • Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider.
  • Travelers arriving from Hubei Province, China
    • Monitor for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for at least 14 days and seek medical care right away if you experience those symptoms. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
    • Avoid contact with others.
    • Not travel while sick.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Additional Information

COVID-19 Call Center

Call us with your COVID-19 questions and to be screened for Houston's community based testing site.

832-393-4220

M-F: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sat/Sun: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

The Houston Health Department does not provide test results for people tested at the Houston community based testing site. FEMA obtained a contractor who calls with results. The process is described in this document.

Houston-area Testing Sites

How You Can Help

Visit our COVID-19 Resources page for a list of city departments, community groups, and businesses that both offer assistance to the public and provide an opportunity for residents to assist with COVID-19 response.

Mental Health and Coping

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after infectious disease outbreaks. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help your long-term healing. If you or someone you know shows signs of stress for several days or weeks, get help by accessing Harris County’s COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 833-251-7544.

——————-

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), may be stressful for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Visit the CDC for more.

Preventing Illness

People should practice routine healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19:

  • 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.)

Closures

City of Houston City Service Status 

These lists were compiled on March 18, 2020. Please check with your school or venue for updates.

Info for people living with HIV

The impact of COVID-19 on people with HIV is not known. Current evidence indicates that the risk of severe illness increases with age and with certain chronic medical problems. In one case series, the median age of critically ill patients was 66 years and 72% had underlying co-morbid conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease, and immunosuppression.

COVID-19 Information for People Living with HIV

Guidance for people who are sick

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Do not go out in public when you are sick.
  • Avoid medical settings in general unless necessary.
  • If you are ill in any way, call your doctor’s office first before going in.
  • Do not go to the emergency room unless it’s a medical emergency.Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
  • If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact a healthcare professional. You must call ahead before going.

Discontinuation of Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19

Guidance for workplaces and businesses

Employers should take steps to make it more feasible for their employees to work in ways that minimize close contact with large numbers of people.

Employers should:

  • Maximize telecommuting options for as many employees as possible.
  • Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
  • Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time

COVID-19 General Disinfection Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings 

Travel Health Notices

Travel Health Notices inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues that impact travelers’ health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters, in specific international destinations.

Rumor Control

  • The Houston Health Department does not provide test results for people tested at the Houston community based testing site. FEMA obtained a contractor who calls and mails a letter to people who are tested at the site. The process is described in this document. 
  • Health department COVID-19 testing sites are not opening on March 18. When the sites are ready, an announcement will be made.
  • Testing treatment, or services relating to COVID-19 will NOT be used against immigrants in their public charge evaluation.
  • Test results from a doctor’s office come will be reported to the patient by the doctor’s office.
  • The Houston Health Department lab is operating within capacity and has never experienced a COVID-19 testing backlog.
  • There are no plans for a ‘lockdown’ of Houston.
  • There is no need for the general public to use facemasks to protect against COVID-19.
  • The flu shot does not protect against COVID-19 but it’s flu season and people 6-months and older should get a flu shot.

CDC Guidance
Protect yourself and your community from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like coronavirus disease 2019. Visit the CDC website for detailed guidance for:

Visit the CDC for more.

Speaker/Info Requests

This form is for the public to request speakers, info or other guidance from the Houston Health Department. Please allow 24-48 hours for a response.

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