SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KXAN) — The U.S. Center for Disease Control has confirmed the United States’ 15th case of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in a patient under federal quarantine in San Antonio.
The group returned to the country from China on a State Department chartered flight on February 7, and was quarantined at JBSA-Lackland. This case is the first patient quarantined at the San Antonio base to test positive for COVID-19. They are currently isolated at a nearby designated hospital and receiving treatment.
“Of the 91 passengers at Lackland, this is the only patient with symptoms at this time. The public health and emergency preparedness has gone exactly according to plan,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Our local, state and federal partners each of whom are represented here today are coordinated in executing the plan to treat the patient and contain the virus.”
Anyone having lived in or traveled to the Hubei Province in China is considered at high risk for contracting the disease. Travelers coming from that region are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine after returning to the U.S.
The CDC says while so far only one patient is showing symptoms of the virus, the possibility of more patients carrying the disease is a possibility.
“There may be additional cases we identify I do want to prepare you for that,” said Captain Jennifer McQuiston with the CDC. “We are still within the potential incubation period for coronavirus for people coming out o Wuhan. We continue to monitor these passengers every day twice a day with temperature checks, we’re looking at symptoms, and the moment we suspect anyone might have coronavirus based on their symptoms we will immediately use the exact same system to send them to the health centers that will be able to care for them properly and keep them isolated.
The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was first identified in late December in the city of Wuhan, in central China. To date, it has infected more than 42,000 people in the country and killed 1,107. Beyond China, the disease has struck 24 countries, causing 393 cases and 1 death, in the Philippines.
“It’s something that seems to be bubbling up and the bubbles are getting closer,” said Johnny Kelly, who lives in Austin. Kelly said he and his girlfriend are taking extra precautions to stay germ-free.
“Knowing they are quarantined doesn’t do anything for me. That’s not to say I am hyper-alert, but who is to know what happened before they were quarantined?” Kelly questioned.
In reality, local doctors will say that there is not much of a threat to Austinites for now.
“The case in San Antonio will likely bring more questions, but I think that most people understand that if they practice good hygiene, they will not come in contact with the virus,” said Dr. Georgeanne Freeman, with the Freeman Medical Clinic. “If a person with the Coronavirus were to cough in San Antonio, there’s no way the droplets would come up to Austin.”
Dr. Freeman offered familiar advice:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Cough in your sleeve
- Wear a mask if you are showing symptoms of an illness
- Regularly disinfect objects and surfaces people regularly tough like phones, remote controls, door handles and counter tops
Finally, while news of the Coronavirus in Texas may seem scary, Dr. Freeman suggests keeping things in perspective. We are still not completely out of flu season.
“The influenza virus kills a lot more people every year than this corona virus has killed people this year, so remember that if you are concerned about your health, it’s not too late to vaccinate and get that flu shot for the season,” Dr. Freeman said.