First person-to-person spread of virus in Waco announced

Screenshot from press conference livestream taken by Matt. How do we credit these?

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

McLennan County has a seventh confirmed case of COVID-19. Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver announced the new case and stricter limits on community gatherings, at a press conference Thursday.

Health officials have confirmed one of the seven cases was acquired locally, marking the first known instance of person-to-person spread in Waco. While the virus is now present in the community, Deaver said none of the cases so far have been severe.

“None of the cases that we have reported so far have required hospitalization, and none of them have reached that level of seriousness,” Deaver said. “That obviously can change.”

People who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate themselves and consult a physician. Symptoms are flu-like and include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The virus can spread before an infected person even realizes they are sick, and Deaver said immediate and total isolation at its onset is crucial to prevent the disease’s spread.

“If you have symptoms of COVID-19 … Immediately self-isolate. This means avoid all contact with others. Go home, stay home and contact your physician,” Deaver said. “Your doctor can determine if you need to be evaluated by phone or in person. Your doctor will evaluate you and determine if you need a test.”

Deaver also said those who display symptoms but do not meet the criteria for testing should still continue to self-isolate and practice extreme caution.

“If your doctor tells you you don’t meet the criteria for testing to confirm COVID-19, you should act as though you have COVID-19,” Deaver said. That means you should continue to self-isolate, stay home and avoid contact with others until recommended by a doctor. Do not go to the emergency room unless you feel your symptoms are severe.”

Dr. Farley Verner, an infectious disease specialist in Waco, was present at the press conference to answer questions. When asked about where the people who contracted the virus work, Verner said they would not provide specific information.

“Unless a particular person’s workplace is felt to be a risk to the public beyond what their risk might be in another a setting then we don’t give out personal identifiers, something that’s going to give information about a particular patient,” Verner said.

Though the city would not provide identifying information, it emerged Wednesday that two of the confirmed cases were Baylor professors who had traveled to New York over spring break.

Deaver also said Waco will implement limits on gatherings of people in-line with an order issued by McLennan County which was updated Thursday.

“We are amending our emergency declaration so the maximum number of persons permitted to be in a community gathering is reduced from 50 to 10,” Deaver said. “This will become effective as of 11:59 p.m. tonight.”