March 18, 2020 559 PM
TEXAS — As Texans adapt to a new normal and businesses shutter or reduce services across the state, health officials at the federal, state and local level are offering advice on how to stay healthy and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
In guidance issued Monday, President Donald Trump asked that Americans avoid groups of more than 10 people for the next 15 days (until March 31) to help contain the virus.
At the state level, the Texas Department of State Health Services is now recommending Texans change plans to help protect themselves and other members of the public from the coronavirus. Specific recommendations include: canceling large gatherings, avoiding all non-essential travel and practicing social distancing. For individuals, that could mean avoiding social gatherings and public spaces when possible. People with the coronavirus can spread the disease before they show symptoms.
Local health authorities are advising that people avoid touching their face and wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. A handwashing guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
Health authorities are also suggesting that people keep their surroundings, including their clothing, clean, as the coronavirus can also survive on surfaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has this guide on cleaning surfaces: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html
The American Chemistry Council has also released this guide of recommended cleaning products, available here: https://www.americanchemistry.com/Novel-Coronavirus-Fighting-Products-List.pdf
For individuals who worry they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, health officials ask that people contact hospitals and doctors by phone rather than visiting in person. Health care providers will evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether individuals should come in for care. Big Bend Regional Medical Center says it has a separate entrance for anyone suspected of having coronavirus. Preventative Care Health Services said the same about its clinics in Marfa, Alpine and Presidio city.
Dr. Ekta Escovar at the Big Bend Regional Medical Center is recommending West Texans self-quarantine for 14 days if they’ve recently traveled to high-risk areas in the United States. At press time, those areas are: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, Boston, the Chicago area, the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and the Houston area, the Las Vegas area and New Orleans. In a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday, Ekta Escovar, a doctor at the Big Bend Regional Medical Center, said the hospital was working to provide up-to-date guidance on travel but that there “may be a delay” as new cases pop up hour-by-hour in the United States.
Sul Ross State University is being even more stringent. On Monday, the school asked students to self-quarantine for 14 days if they’ve been through any of the following airports in the past week: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York; Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Illinois; San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in California; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington; Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in California; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Georgia; Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia; Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas; Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) in Michigan; Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) in Massachusetts; and Miami International Airport (MIA) in Florida.