The City of San Marcos in coordination with Hays County, Texas State University, Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office, local school districts, regional and state agencies, met Wednesday, Mar. 4 to coordinate and discuss efforts underway to address Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“While COVID-19 is not an immediate threat to our community as no cases of the virus have been confirmed in Hays County at this time, we are partnering with county-wide organizations and state public health officials to monitor trends and prepare our organizations and residents,” said Rachel Ingle, the City’s Emergency Management Coordinator.
From today’s Hays County press release, Hays County Local Health Department Epidemiologist Eric Schneider explained how the public can take preventative measures to protect themselves and their families against illness. Essentially, they are the same healthy behaviors that can prevent a flu outbreak:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day, including between your fingers and underneath your nails. Handwashing is considered the best way to remove germs and dirt, and hand sanitizers should be used only when handwashing is not available. The hand sanitizers should be at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.
- Avoid handshaking and high-fives;
- Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth;
- Stay home when you feel sick;
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue then put the tissue in the trash, or use the crook of your elbow if a tissue isn’t available;
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household disinfectant cleaning spray or wipe. Clean cell and desk phones, computer keyboards, door handles, and work surfaces often.
- Face masks are not considered an effective way to prevent someone from catching a virus unless you have close, frequent contact with a sick person; however, they are an option for sick people to use to keep from spreading the virus;
- Avoid travel to areas that have been designated high-risk areas because of multiple verified cases of COVID-19.
The public should note that Coronaviruses are not new – some are responsible for common colds and some for more serious infections like SARS – but this particular strain of the virus is new which is why it is often referred to as Novel Coronavirus. Its formal name is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) since 2019 was the year it was discovered.
“As of March 5, no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Hays County, and only a few individuals who believe they may have been exposed to a confirmed case are in self-quarantine and are being monitored as a precaution to protect our community,” Schneider said. “While we are anticipating cases to eventually show up in Hays County, the first line of defense against an outbreak or community spreading is to follow good health practices whether you are healthy or feeling sick.”
Contact your healthcare provider or the Hays County Local Health Department at 512-393-5520 if you have any questions about COVID-19 or if you are concerned that you have been exposed. The Hays County Health Department has a monitoring protocol in place which will be explained to you if warranted. If you are experiencing symptoms, you may be directed to your local hospital emergency room.