AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and several state health officials met on Monday for a briefing on the novel coronavirus in Texas, discussing the current status of the virus in the nation as well as what Texas is doing to combat any threat.

"Through the coordinated efforts of our state agencies, Texas is working tirelessly to ensure every community has the resources and preventative measures needed to respond to the coronavirus," said Gov. Abbott. "The Lone Star State will remain vigilant to protect the health and safety of all Texans."

According to the office of the governor, several actions to ensure the health of Texans have already taken place, including the activation of the State Medical Operations Center (SMOC), which serves as a resource for any request from local entities. It also ensures consistent collection, tracking and reporting of activities and data.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is also coordinating with local agencies on logistics to make sure supplies are available to communities across the states. 

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Additionally, all agencies are actively speaking with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health departments, regionally advisory councils, health providers and local entities to share information and provide updates on protocols and processes.

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will be working with local health departments to assess people with respiratory illness and recent travel to the province of Hubei, China, for possible testing for the virus. These travelers are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and contact their health care providers if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath within two weeks of being in Hubei.

The DSHS is asking health professionals to ask their patients with respiratory symptoms about their travel history and contact their local or regional health department if they think the patient could possibly have the virus.

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Officials say the best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, which are similar to the ways you would try to avoid getting the flu. The CDC recommends the following actions to prevent spreading respiratory illnesses:

  • 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.

Gov. Abbott was briefed by Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) Commissioner Courtney Phillips, DSHS Commissioner John William Hellerstedt and TDEM Chief Nim Kidd.

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