The state’s first coronavirus case identified outside of a Texas quarantine site is a man in his 70s who lives in the Houston area, Fort Bend County health officials said Wednesday.
The man recently traveled abroad, county officials said. He has been hospitalized and is in stable condition.
A Houston public health lab performed the test for the new coronavirus and returned a “presumptive positive” result. Officials said they sent lab specimens to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for confirmation.
“Having a COVID-19 case in Texas is a significant development in this outbreak, but it doesn’t change the fact that the immediate risk to most Texans is low,” John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, said in a statement.
If the presumptive case is confirmed, it would be the 12th instance of coronavirus in Texas. The other cases have all been people who caught the COVID-19 disease overseas and were quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The base was designated as one of the nation’s quarantine centers for people considered at risk of having been exposed to the virus overseas. On Tuesday, more than 120 people were released after being cleared by health authorities.
“Remaining calm is of utmost importance,” the Fort Bend County statement said. Local health officials urged people not to visit the emergency room unless necessary and to wash hands, cover sneezes and coughs, and stay home when sick.
“It was just a matter of time before Texas announced its first case,” said Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter, the director of Fort Bend County’s health department. But health officials said there was no evidence of community spread of the virus in Texas.