Number of Cases rises to 36; Officials close Schools, cancel Public Events
UPDATED – March 17, 2020 – Health Officials confirmed the fifth case of coronavirus in the City of Houston, five more cases in Harris County, making a total of 36 in the Houston areas. Officials said that they recorded 5 cases in Houston, 11 cases in Harris County, 9 cases in Fort Bend County, 2 cases in Brazoria County, 2 in Galveston County, 4 in Montgomery County, 2 in Matagorda County, where a 90 year old man died, and 1 in Brazos County. (NOTE: This number will change as days go by.)
HOUSTON – With 36 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases reported in the Houston and Harris County areas, the city and the county are on high alert. Most of the cases can be traced to either a vacation cruise on the Nile River in Egypt, or attendance at the Houston Rodeo cook-off. However, several cases have not been identified with these causes, and are being investigated.
Actions have been taken to prevent the virus spread, such as closures of the Rodeo, schools and colleges, athletic events, and entertainment. This week the closure of all restaurants and bars was added and groups were limited to less than 50 persons. The scope of closures is unprecedented in modern times.
In East Harris County, school districts were closed, and hot meals were being distributed at various schools. Colleges and many public facilities, parks and libraries, were also closed.
A call center has been opened to answer questions from the public. Houstonians can call the center at 832-393- 4220 to speak to Health department staff and obtain information about the disease or get their questions answered.
The call center will open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will return voice messages left after hours the following day on a first call, first served basis.
Federal action is expected later this week, with test centers and financial relief for those unable to work. The government has been criticized for a slow, late response to what the World Health Organization now calls a pandemic.