Houstonians pay close attention to COVID-19

Fifteen people are dead and more than 300 are infected from Coronavirus COVID-19 in the United States.

In the Houston area, there are now eight cases linked to COVID-19. Some of the linked cases are considered “presumptive positives” while the results are sent to the CDC for additional testing. Three of the local Coronavirus patients live in Fort Bend County, three in unincorporated Harris County, and two in Houston.

Locally, grocery stores are struggling to keep soap, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and bottled water on shelves.

“I’ve heard there are more reports of it in Houston,” said Tori Steffan, a shopper.  “We’re just making sure we have a full pantry.”

MORE: Live updating map of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. & around the world

“The guy said he stocked water this morning, and it was full,” said Esther Avraham, another shopper. “Now, it’s bone dry.”

According to officials, all eight of the local COVID-19 patients were on a recent trip overseas to Egypt. The group returned in late February. We’re told that dozens of people are in self-quarantine in Harris County after making contact with those with positive COVID-19 test results.

“We don’t have yet, any case that suggests community spreading,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “If we see that, we’ll be at a different point of concern. Our priority is to track down folks who may have been contaminated by the people who went on this trip.”

Thirteen HCA Houston Healthcare hospitals are now limiting guests at their facilities. According to a spokesperson from HCA Houston Healthcare, all visitors “will be screened by answering a series of questions about recent travel and current health”.

“We’re still trying to access the mortality rate because the denominator might be inaccurate,” said Hidalgo. “It’s the unknown. It’s the fact that the medical community is still studying this. For us, it’s our job to assume the worst, and prepare for the worst.”