Two presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus, COVID-19, were confirmed in Austin early Friday morning, city health officials said. The two cases are the first confirmed in Central Texas.
After the announcement, Austin Independent School District announced its schools and offices will be closed Friday. UT Austin said it will open on Friday.
The two cases are not believed to be community spread, Austin Public Health said, meaning the cases did not come from an unknown infected person they had contact with.
“This is concerning but not surprising and we have been prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 in our area,” said Austin's interim medical authority, Dr. Mark Escott. “It is critical that the community continue to heed our recommendations and take personal hygiene seriously. This will be the key to ensuring that this virus doesn’t spread.”
The two cases are considered presumptive positives until they are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A presumptive positive result is when a patient has tested positive by a public health laboratory, but results are pending confirmation at CDC.
Austin Public Health says it continues to urge everyone to help limit the spread of disease through proper hygiene practices:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, 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.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
"If you have symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath, please contact your health care provider," the city said in a news release. "It is important to call ahead before arriving at a clinic, urgent care or emergency department to avoid potential spread."
There will be a news conference at 6 a.m. with Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Dr. Escott and Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health's director. You will be able to watch on ATXN on TV or online.