The Centers for Disease Control has said they expect coronavirus cases in the United States to likely grow in weeks and months to come.
Amid that expectation, local governments and hospital systems are doing everything they can to prepare.
On Thursday NBCDFW asked Dallas, Collin, Tarrant, and Denton County, along with DFW’s seven largest hospital systems - what procedures they have in place should a patient display coronavirus symptoms.
Here is what we received back:
“This link -- https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/#healthprof – will give you the overview on the plan and procedures on testing for COVID-19.
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In that plan, local health departments or the DSHS Public Health Region officials would make sure the patient meets “Person Under Investigation” (PUI) criteria for testing and seek approval from DSHS to test. So this part of the procedure is going to be uniform throughout the state, and that’s why we refer you to their website for details.
Locally, once notified, the county’s health department would contact the individual, check to make sure whether they had been tested for Influenza A and B, interview them for information on their recent travel history, and then check with state health authorities on the next steps.
Texas does not operate a tiered hospital system, and Collin County does not operate a county hospital district, so patient care would most likely be placed in a local hospital equipped to handle a patient with the virus.
Right now, we don’t have anything else to add to this, except to say that our staff is in daily contact with state health authorities for updates on protocols and advice, as we have for other potential pandemic threats in the past. “
“Dallas County has a very comprehensive All Hazards Preparedness Plan that includes a section on Pandemic Management, which we are updating and adapting for the specific response requirements to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Due to the confidential nature and sensitive information included, we are not able to release our response plan to the public. However, Dallas County Health and Human Services is taking the risk of an outbreak in the US very seriously and is preparing for any level of response that may be needed. DCHHS continues to work with healthcare providers, schools, businesses, local governments and others, to prepare for the possible spread of COVID-19.
DCHHS preparedness activities include: public health epidemiology and disease monitoring activities; disseminating the latest CDC guidance and issuing public health alerts to local healthcare providers, county partners, and the private sector in preparation for the possible spread of COVID-19; testing and monitoring of patients under investigation; isolation/quarantine related activities; developing laboratory capacity and implementing lab testing; implementing public education strategies to inform the general public about personal protection strategies and other non-pharmaceutical interventions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19; and once effective treatment is identified or a vaccine is developed, dissemination and administration of the pharmaceutical interventions.”
The County Judges from six of the largest member counties of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties today issued the following joint statement regarding the COVID-19 virus:
“We want to reassure the public that their county governments are working closely with the local municipalities and other community stakeholders within our geographical boundaries and regions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as the flu and COVID-19. As the providers of public health throughout our counties, our local health officials are closely monitoring the evolving situation. We are coordinating with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and regional public health and healthcare agencies.
“The overall risk of COVID-19 to the general public within our counties remains low. While we remain vigilant in our efforts to control the spread of the disease, there will always remain a possibility that we may not be able to prevent this virus from reaching our community. We are also in the middle of flu season and it continues to take its toll. It is imperative for the public to do its part to help prevent the spread of ALL respiratory viruses by following these measures recommended by our health officials:
- 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.
“Health officials are urging people to stay home if you experience mild flu-like symptoms and to visit your primary care provider. If you have significant trouble breathing or other severe symptoms, you may need emergency care. If you are unsure, speak with your doctor.
“Should the public need any further information, feel free to visit https://www.cdc.gov/ or https://www.dshs.texas.gov/. By following these preventative measures and taking immediate action when you are not feeling well, we will all do our part to limit the spread of respiratory viruses.”
"As of 2/27/2020, DCPH has no positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Denton County. The following outlines DCPH’s existing epidemiology surveillance plan & public health response levels. #COVID19
DCPH’s surveillance plan & response levels are flexible and adaptable for COVID-19, to best prevent the spread of disease & protect our community.
DCPH’s epidemiology surveillance plan includes the following three phases:
1️⃣ No human-to-human activity: Provide education for medical providers on early recognition & guidelines of potential cases.
2️⃣ Low level human-to-human spread outside of US: Provide medical providers & hospitals advisories with case definitions & lab criteria for diagnosis. Alert EMTs & providers to utilize PPE for patients with symptoms. Passive surveillance of high risk exposures.
3️⃣ Accelerated Activity or Activity within US: Distribute health alerts including case definition, criteria for diagnosis, & mandatory reporting information. Active surveillance & screening of suspect cases. Provide resources for public inquiries.
DCPH is currently at level 3️⃣ in the epidemiology surveillance plan.
DCPH’s public health response includes the following four levels:
🟢 Response level green: no evidence of local community-based transmission & no restrictions.
🟡 Response level yellow: evidence of local community based transmission. Considerations of targeted restrictions, daily teleconferencing with hospitals, & identification of possible isolation or quarantine facilities.
🟠 Response level orange: evidence of significant community-based transmission. Considerations of voluntary general movement restrictions.
🔴 Response level red: evidence of significant transmission, significant mortality, & surge exceeded. Compulsory movement & activity restrictions.
DCPH is currently in response level green 🟢 in public health response.
DCPH is engaged in communication with federal, state, & local partners regarding COVID-19.
DCPH encourages community members to visit DentonCounty.gov/Coronavirus for more information.
To help prevent the spread of all disease, DCPH encourages you to:
💧 Wash your hands often
🚫 Avoid touching your face
🤧 Cover coughs & sneezes
🏡 Stay home if you’re sick"
“We understand there are many questions about this virus. Please know the peace of mind, as well as the safety of our patients and their families, is our number one priority. We have visitor and patient screenings already in place, including travel history. Since January 10, 2020 we have been screening for travel to areas affected by this virus. If someone shows symptoms of this virus, we have clear protocols and standard operating procedures in place and follow guidance from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are committed to providing health care to the community as this situation continues to unfold.”
“JPS Health Network is following guidance from the federal, state and local agencies coordinating the response to COVID-19.
That guidance recommends screening, identification, and isolation procedures to get patients the care they need and to keep JPS team members and our community safe.
- Any JPS patient showing symptoms of illness like fever or cough is given a mask when they arrive.
- JPS is asking all patients a series of questions designed to identify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Our Infection Prevention team will be immediately notified if any symptomatic patient answers “yes” to the recommended screening questions.
- That patient will be isolated while Infection Prevention activates the level of isolation and protection needed, coordinating with the Tarrant County Public Health Department.
Tarrant County Public Health holds a daily call to offer updates and guidance to health organizations like JPS Health Network. And JPS’ Infection Prevention team also receives information directly from federal and state agencies. Updated information is passed on to our team members so they can continue to provide the best care in the safest environment.
JPS continues to educate all patients, visitors and team members that these are the best steps you can take to prevent the spread of disease: cover your cough, wash your hands, and wear a mask if you’re sick.”
“As part of our preparedness, Medical City Healthcare facilities are working diligently to help ensure we’re prepared for potential issues related to the spread of COVID-19. Our preparedness efforts include reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols, helping to ensure we have needed supplies and equipment, staffing contingency plans and emergency planning and preparedness.”
Baylor Scott & White:
“The safety of our patients and staff remains a priority. We continue to working closely with local and state health departments to conduct screenings in accordance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and recommendations for high consequence infectious diseases.”
- We are providing guidance for clinical personnel in our hospitals and doctor’s offices for patients who might screen as a potential COVID-19 patients.
- We are working with public health officials to ensure that we have the latest information on the global spread of the disease and any changes to clinical protocols and screening measures.
- As a result, we are regularly adapting our screening alerts and posting COVID-19 Guidance Signage in hospitals and clinics for our consumers.
- Anyone who screens as a potential COVID-19 patient is rapidly identified and isolated from other patients.
- We are providing our staff with specific, detailed instructions for the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
”Parkland has included additional screening of patients at all points of entry to the health system for travel history and symptoms using screening tools that were already in place. The greater concern in Dallas is for seasonal influenza. We are continuing to orient all patients and staff to follow standard precautions including hand washing, covering your cough, etc. to prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory illness. Parkland follows CDC guidelines and partners with our local public health agencies to coordinate efforts in a concerted way.”
How to Avoid COVID-19 Infection:
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, 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.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
*Information shared from the Office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott