CONROE, Texas - Montgomery County officials have reported the county’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in a patient being treated at a local hospital.
The patient is a man in his 40s and is a resident of Montgomery County. Officials announced on Wednesday that this is not travel-related and it could be the first case of community spread in the greater Houston area.
Mayor Sylvester Turner announced at a joint conference that the man actually went to the World Championship Bar-B-Que Cookoff on February 28.
All healthcare providers are following strict guidelines from the CDC in all interactions with the patient.
The patient is under isolation at a local hospital.
Montgomery County's Public Health District and Office of Emergency Management announced Tuesday afternoon that the positive test has been submitted to the Centers for Disease Control for final confirmation.
Out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with HIPAA, officials are not releasing the identity of the patient, or the hospital where the patient is being treated.
Officials say they are taking precautions to ensure the safety of other patients in the hospital.
This latest patient is the youngest of the area cases.
Most patients are in their 60s and 70s and have been linked to a cruise ship in Egypt.
Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health, Fort Bend Health & Human Services released the following joint statement on Tuesday evening:
"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 the 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."