Phone bank opens to answer coronavirus questions

Houston’s Health Department started a new call center to answer questions about Coronavirus COVID-19.

"There’s a lot of confusion,” said Porfirio Villarreal, a spokesperson from Houston’s Health Department. “We want to make sure they know what the real information is.”

The call center was created to help people concerned about coronavirus. The phone number to call for help is 832-393-4220.

“Some of the most common questions we’re getting, when do I need to go to an ER,” described Villarreal. “The best thing to do is call your family doctor right away if you’re feeling any symptoms.”

In a telephone press conference on Monday, a physician said the virus could have a major impact in the United States.

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“There’s essentially no immunity to this virus in the population,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Many people in the United States will at some point, either this year or next, be exposed to the virus. There’s a good chance many will get sick. Again, based on what we know of this virus, we don’t expect most people to develop serious illness.”

Classes at Rice University are canceled this week. A university staff member tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was possibly exposed the virus to others on campus that are now in self-quarantine. All of the Houston area COVID-19 patients recently traveled to Egypt.

“I was actually kind of shocked that classes were canceled,” said Nina Cook, a student at Rice. “It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.”

The Houston Health Department’s COVID-19 call center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 832-393-4220.