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2 People From Harris County, Including Rice University Employee, Test Positive For Coronavirus

HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) — A man and a woman from northwest Harris County have tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting Egypt last month, officials announced.

Harris County Public Health notified Rice officials Thursday afternoon that one of the positive cases came from a self-quarantined university employee.

In a statement released the same day, the university said the affected employee was exposed to the coronavirus while overseas.

The statement continued to say that the employee's contact with the Rice campus was limited to one building that has been "extensively and continuously sanitized." At this time, the university has no plans to suspend campus operations or classes.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the other case was also travel-related and that there's no evidence of community spread.

"The best tools to fight the spread of this illness are facts, not fear," Hidalgo said. "Residents should know that we have been leaning forward to make sure our response to this illness continues to be proactive and coordinated with a wide array of local, state and federal officials."

These are the second and third confirmed cases reported in the Houston metropolitan area. Fort Bend County reported a presumptive positive case on Wednesday.
"Since January, we have been at an elevated level of readiness to prepare for and respond to a positive case here in Harris County," said Harris County Public Health Executive Director, Dr. Umair A Shah, MD, MPH. "We will continue to take action by identifying potential contacts and monitoring them closely."

Harris County residents can help prevent the spread of this virus by taking the same preventive measures used to protect against the cold and flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Keeping a sick child at home prevents the spread of illness in the school and community and allows your child an opportunity to rest and recover.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

To learn more about protecting yourself from COVID-19, visit the CDC website here.

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