Two of five COVID-19 cases in Waco area confirmed to be Baylor faculty

Mayor Kyle Deaver announced five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Waco-McLennan county.

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

The City of Waco held a coronavirus press conference Wednesday morning, where Mayor Kyle Deaver announced five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Waco-McLennan county.

Each of the cases are travel related, however none of patients have been hospitalized. The Waco-McLennan county public health district was notified about four of the cases Tuesday night.

The first case, a 64-year-old man who traveled to Israel last week; the second case, a 68-year-old man visiting family in McLennan county from Ecuador. A 52-year-old-man and 56-year-old woman, a married couple, tested positive last night. They had previously traveled to New York.

Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone confirmed after the press conference that the couple are Baylor faculty members. Livingstone said they did not return to campus and have been in self-isolation since returning home.

The county was notified of a fifth case Wednesday morning. Additional information about the case is not yet available.

Dr. Brenda Gray, director of the Waco-McLennan county public health district, said “the Waco-McLennan county public health district is working with the individuals to identify and notify any close contacts. This includes notifying local public health and other jurisdictions if necessarily of a notification.”

These individuals are practicing self-isolation and their symptoms are monitored over the phone by a professional.

Senior epidemiologist Vaidehi Shah said there are still 16 pending cases of COVID-19 and hopes for an update of the exact number by Wednesday night.

Gray urges that the best way to “flatten the curve” is to practice social distancing, keeping at least six feet away from another. Additionally, measures include washing hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cleaning high-contact surfaces frequently and covering coughs and sneezes.

Gray instructed anyone experiencing fever, cough or difficulty breathing should visit their healthcare providers website for online screening, or contact the family health center for assistance.

Livingstone instructed students in Waco to call the Baylor Student Health Services nurse hotline at (254)-710-4939 for advisement if students meet the criteria for testing. On-campus testing is available for coronavirus by appointment only.

Deaver explained the steps the county took Tuesday to follow the emergency declaration are preventive measures from the COVID-19 outbreak. Dine-in restaurants, bars and most other businesses were closed Tuesday night.

“These steps will help flatten the curve, and slow and prevent instances of community spread,” Deaver said. “As a community we all have a role to play in preparing and responding to COVID-19; the steps the community took yesterday and today were to keep our community safe and protect our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.”

Deaver said there are no changes to the order made Tuesday.

“We are taking this day by day and hour by hour. If we need to update our order, we will do that,” Deaver said.