Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) has received notification of the first four positive cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Williamson County. At this stage information is very limited, WCCHD will share more as it becomes available and necessary to protect the health of the public.
These four individuals are:
• A female in her 40s who has been self-quarantined
• A male in his 50s with exposure to a known case
• An infant who is a close contact with a separate known case
• A female in her 40s who has known travel history to France
“As testing is becoming more widely available, we expect to continue to see more cases,” said Dr. Lori Palazzo, WCCHD Medical Director and Williamson County Health Authority. “Approximately 80% of individuals who test positive COVID-19, including the four cases we received today, experience mild symptoms and fully recover in a few days. The exception to this is our 65 years and older population. I can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to protect this vulnerable population by:”
• Staying home when you are sick, except to get medical care. Using telemedicine if possible.
• Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
• Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• When you can't wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
• Practicing social distancing - keeping a space of 6 feet between you and others; and avoiding any type of mass gatherings.
• Getting a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)
Investigations conducted by the Williamson County and Cities Health District will identify potential contacts exposed to the virus and provide close contacts guidance about the virus and monitor them for the development of symptoms.
“We have developed strong relationships with partners and health providers through the years,” said Dr. Palazzo. “Together, we have planned, prepared, and tested our ability to respond to public health events like this, but it is critical that we all do our part to slow the spread of this virus.”
To ensure the health and safety of all our residents, County Judge Bill Gravell issued a disaster declaration on March 14 to activate the emergency management plan, which allowed the County to allocate resources, utilize personnel and enact procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Williamson County. It also allows for state assistance to be requested if local resources and mutual aid are insufficient. Under the local disaster declaration, the County Judge is given the authority to exercise any and all necessary powers set out under the Texas Disaster Act of Texas Government Code Chapter 418. At today’s Commissioners Court meeting, the disaster declaration was extended until it is terminated by the Commissioners Court.
If you have symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath, please contact your health care provider. It is important to call ahead before arriving at a clinic, urgent care or emergency department to avoid potential spread. For more information, visit www.wcchd.org/COVID-19.