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Houston woman with underlying health issues dies before testing positive for coronavirus

It’s the first COVID-19 death reported by Houston Public Health officials.

HOUSTON — Houston Public Health confirmed Thursday a hospital patient who passed away a couple days ago had the coronavirus.

Health officials said the patient was a woman between 60 and 70 years old who had multiple underlying health conditions. She died March 24, but it wasn’t until after passing that the results came in.

This death marks the first one reported by the Houston Public Health Department.

“It’s unfortunate that our city has lost one of its residents because of the spread of this virus,” Dr. David Persse with Houston Public Health said.” “The City of Houston and the health department extend their deepest condolences to the patient’s family and friends.”

Houston Public Health said the department has launched an investigation to identify potential contacts exposed to the virus. They will reach out to these individuals, give them further guidance and monitor them for possible symptoms.

As of Thursday, at least 430 people have tested positive for the virus in the greater Houston area.

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

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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 infection 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. 

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

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Stay up to date on coronavirus

How coronavirus is spread

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

  • 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, hot your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

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 try to avoid crowds or or places where you might interact with people who are sick.


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