By Candice Smith, MSN, CCRN, Chief Nursing Officer

As we promised we would last month, we have new information on the coronavirus (now called COVID-19) to share with the community. The risk of infection for all Texans remains low.

There are now 14 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed several cases of the virus in people under federal quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. The first was a traveler who returned on a U.S. State Department-chartered flight from Wuhan City, China. The others returned on a State Department flight for passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.

The individuals will remain isolated at medical facilities until they test negative for the virus and are no longer at risk of spreading it.

There are no other cases in Texas, and these cases do not change the risk of infection for people in San Antonio or other parts of Texas, because the patients have been under federal quarantine since their return and have not interacted with the public in Texas communities.

Illnesses from people infected with the virus have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath.

As with all viruses that can be spread person-to-person, the tried-and-true hygiene practices our grandmothers taught us still hold:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

I want to reassure our community that Hereford Regional Medical Center has infection prevention and infection control, procedures and practices in place. We will take every precaution necessary to protect our healthcare professionals, patients and visitors. We also get up-to-date information from the Texas Department of State Health Services on the virus outbreak. As a hospital, we are prepared for emergencies and crises of all types, including disease outbreaks.

We will continue to update the community as the coronavirus situation evolves or official recommendations change. For now, though, stick to what works regarding illness prevention, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. If you are ill, please call 806-364-7512 to make an appointment with our clinic.

Stay well.