Persons in Dallas, Tarrant counties test ‘presumptive positive’ for COVID-19 coronavirus

Two people in Dallas County and one person in Tarrant County have tested “presumptive positive” for the COVID-19 coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.

The first Dallas County patient is a 77-year-old out-of-state traveler and has an “extensive travel history,” according to Dallas County Health and Human Services. Officials said the person traveled into Texas by car. The person is being treated at a Dallas-area hospital. Health officials said the person is in isolation and "appropriate personal protective equipment" is being used by hospital staff.

Late Tuesday afternoon, health officials confirmed a second presumptive positive case in Dallas County. This person in their 50s was in close contact with the first presumptive positive Dallas County case.

"These cases are not indicative of community spread," health officials said in a statement. "Information about the location of the patient will not be released to protect patient privacy." 

Tarrant County Public Health officials declined to give any identifying information about their patient, other than saying the senior citizen had traveled to a conference in Kentucky in late February. When he returned, the person felt sick.

"They thought that they had the flu, went to a doctor, got treated for the flu. It didn’t get better," explained Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. "So they ended up going to the ER and then the ER contacted us, and it turned out to be COVID-19."

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Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said it shouldn't be a surprise that COVID-19 has finally arrived in North Texas.

“Cases of COVID-19 in the 9th largest county and the 4th most populous metropolitan area in the country were not unexpected. This test result is considered a presumptive positive until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DCHHS has completed contract tracing and has directly notified anyone who was in close contact with the individual while they were in Texas,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins in a statement.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the city has been preparing for potential cases and he's confident officials and professionals can handle what happens.

This would be the first coronavirus case in Dallas or Tarrant counties. Three people tested positive for COVID-19 in Collin County, officials there said on Tuesday.

Coronavirus health tips

While COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, daily precautions recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses are the same:

•  Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.

•  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

•  Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.

RELATED: Coronavirus FAQ: Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 outbreak

•  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

•  Stay home when you are sick and keep children home when they are sick.

•  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

•  Get a flu shot. (Although the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is flu season.)

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