U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX 32nd District) hosted a town hall Friday with Dallas County Health and Human Services to discuss the latest news surrounding the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and resources that are being made available to the public.
The director of Dallas’ Health and Human Services Department, Dr. Phillip Huang, says North Texas will likely see cases of the coronavirus but feels confident we’ll be prepared.
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The public is anxious for information concerning the coronavirus. Dr. Trish Perl with the UT Southwestern Medical Center says experts are doing their best to keep up.
“What we’re telling you today is the best of what we know. But it’s changing and our recommendations may change tomorrow,” said Perl.
Perl sat on the panel Friday evening with Representative Allred and Dr. Huang. Together, the trio took questions concerning risks and resources.
“I think the chances that we will have a case in north Texas are very high. But what we’re seeing here is that we’re ready for it,” said Huang.
Dr. Huang says Dallas County is currently in “containment mode”, with testing underway at the DCHHS. While he would not share exact numbers, Huang says testing supplies are limited and the county is being judicious about how those supplies are used.
With that said, he wants the public to keep in mind how the virus works.
“About 80% of persons to have this virus have very mild symptoms. Another 15% have more severe. And then another 5% are critical,” said Huang.
Dr. Perl says a vaccine is likely about a year in the making. She says the mortality rate is roughly .5%-2.5%. While scientist work on a vaccine, she stands by the tried and true recommendation of consistent handwashing.
“You reduce transmission of respiratory viruses by 50%. There’s not a lot out there that we can tell you reduces transmission by 50 percent,” she said.
Rep Allred says he supported a measure that would distribute 8.3-billion federal dollars to communities impacted by the virus. Still, he says work is needed to ensure equity when it comes to medical care.
“There’s probably going to need to be more done. We need to recognize that about 20 percent of folks in Dallas don’t have health insurance,” said Allred. “we don’t what to have that be an impediment to folks getting tested and then getting treated.”
Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addressed the state's preparedness for testing of the novel coronavirus and announced 10 labs that were either now able to test for the infection or soon would be able to do so.
The governor also confirmed the state's first nonrepatriated case of the virus in Fort Bend County. Since then, five others in the Houston area have been confirmed to have the virus; all six of the patients were exposed to the virus while traveling in a group abroad.