The CDC clears Texas of coronavirus

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer, Video by Grace Smith and BrenShavia Jordan | Broadcast Reporters

The two suspected coronavirus cases in Brazos County and Waco-McLennan County have been reported as negative by the CDC.

Both patients, one a student at Baylor and the other at Texas A&M, alerted doctors more out of concern for their recent travel to endemic area than for their symptoms of the virus.

Waco-McLennan County Public Health District official Kelly Craine said the patient at Baylor had mild symptoms of the flu-like virus and was put in self-isolation as a precaution while awaiting the results of the tests taken last week.

“We are happy we don’t have a positive, but continue to be vigilant,” Craine said.

However, the coronavirus is already present in the U.S., with a total of five confirmed cases in California, Arizona, Washington and Chicago.

Craine said that the public should keep in mind that the status of the virus continues to change, however it is being closely monitored. Additionally, as the CDC releases more guidelines, the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District will continue to adhere to them.

Waco-McLennan County Public Health District and the Brazos County Health Authority are investigated a possible case of coronavirus in a Baylor student on Jan. 24.

Kelly Crane of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District said the health district was alerted yesterday about the case, and the specimen has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

“It was determined that because of the patient’s travel history, there should be testing,” Crane said.

Crane said the greatest risk of catching the virus would be traveling to China.

“The risk at this point is if you traveled to China, so actually being with one patient does not necessarily equal a greater risk,” Crane said.

The student has been interviewed about their schedule and who they have been in contact with if the tests come back positive. The student is currently in self-isolation.

Dr. Eric Wilke, emergency medicine physician in College Station, spoke in a livestream on the Brazos County Health District Facebook page Thursday afternoon. Wilkie said that a student at Texas A&M admitted himself to a Brazos County hospital E.R. on Wednesday because he was concerned about his risk of contracting the coronavirus spreading across China. He had recently been in an endemic area and was experiencing the potential symptoms within the 14-day window.

It is still not confirmed if the patient is infected with the coronavirus. The hospital sent a specimen to the same CDC facility in Atlanta Thursday morning for testing. Wilke is expecting the test results to be back by Monday Jan. 27, or Saturday Jan. 25 at the earliest.

“The patient we are tracking had very mild symptoms fortunately, if it’s confirmed then contact tracing and additionally monitoring will be in place,” Wilke said. “At this time, there doesn’t seem to be anything of concern. The patient is currently in self-isolation.”

Dr. Sharon Stern, medical director at Baylor Health Services, said the university is taking precautions to avoid outbreaks of the coronavirus on campus.

“On an individual basis, we do ask about travel to anyone who is filled with any kind of symptoms,” Stern said. “If you went on a mission trip and came back with stomach pains we will ask where you were, what you ate. Travel history is very important.”

Texas A&M was alerted Wednesday evening and has been monitoring the situation.

“Once the virus was made known, we were already taking steps to monitor, that was part of detecting this early, those steps were already in pace.” Wilke said. “We have been in contact with all three main hospitals.”

If the results come back positive, detail contact tracking will be involved. People the patient may have been in contact with will be watched for the virus.

This article was updated on Jan. 24 and 27.