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Harris County: Coming from New Orleans? You should self-quarantine no matter how you traveled

County health officials are urging anyone who comes from New Orleans or any of the hotspot locations, like New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, to self-quarantine.

HOUSTON — As New Orleans coronavirus cases continue to soar, many are concerned it may soon be the new epicenter, surpassing New York.

As a city so close to Houston, some question whether Gov. Greg Abbott's new quarantine orders will be enough.

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott issues executive order to quarantine individuals flying in from NY, NJ, CT and New Orleans

But county officials say just because you didn’t fly to Houston, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

The governor’s orders are specifically for anyone who flew here, but Harris County is asking: If you’ve come from those areas, no matter how you got here, to self-quarantine.

When Arash Shariatzadeh went to New Orleans for Spring Break, he had no idea it would be so empty.

“At the time, there were more cases in New Orleans than the entire state of Texas," Shariatzadeh said.

It’s the reason he cut his trip short and flew back last Friday, deciding on his own, then to self-quarantine for his family.

“I tell them to bring me water, like water bottles, so I can stay here. I eat here as well. They bring me the food," Shariatzadeh said.

RELATED: Coronavirus updates: 71 Houston firefighters in quarantine

RELATED: Map: Keeping track of Houston-area coronavirus cases

But if Shariatzadeh flew back now, that quarantine wouldn’t be optional.

Becoming one of the latest hotspots, along with Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit, the New Orleans outbreak is most likely thanks to Mardi Gras.

“Likely seeded the virus, and I happen to think that that’s probably correct," said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

Gov. Edwards is begging people to stay home, the same message in Harris County.

But what if you leave the state?

“I was hoping this question would never come up. We’ve said stay home, and really that’s it," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

County health officials are urging anyone who comes from New Orleans or any of the hotspot locations, like New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, to self-quarantine for 14 days, no matter how you got here.

“We have the power to stem the tide and the spread of this virus. It’s on each of us," Hidalgo said.

And seeing the city first hand, Shariatzadeh agrees.

“If you’re coming from a place like New Orleans where it’s growing at that alarming rate, I do think you should self-quarantine," Shariatzadeh said.

But Hidalgo said if you’re staying home, like they’ve told you, that should even be an issue.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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