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'Live your life, but be cautious' | Harris County leaders share new advice amid coronavirus crisis

Judge Lina Hidalgo met Friday with superintendents and hospital leaders about the latest developments.

HOUSTON — It’s not the time for panic.

That’s the word from local leaders in the Houston area who are also trying to control coronavirus rumors.

They believe you should closely follow recommendations while living your life this weekend.

“I think the concern level is super high,” said Houstonian Miguel Millan. But he wasn't letting the pandemic become all-consuming during his run at Memorial Park.

"It’s better to be cautious," said Millan. "Especially when it comes to gatherings.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said caution is key.

"The county is not shut down," said Hidalgo. "The city is not shut down.”

She spent much of her Friday in meetings. One was with area superintendents talking about the repercussions of school closings.

Meanwhile, the CEOs of local hospitals told her they’re continuously working on contingencies, including their own coronavirus testing.

"Everything we’re doing right now is to avoid an avalanche,” said Hidalgo. 

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Hidalgo said state and federal emergency declarations will make it easier to move around resources and reflects the urgency of the situation.

But it does not require a rush on grocery stores or healthcare providers.

"You don’t have symptoms, don’t be worried,” said Harris County Public Health Director Umair Shah, MD.

Shah said most cases are mild. However, any of us could be a danger to those most at risk. That's why "social distancing" is being advised.

"If you do have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and that evaluation process then starts for us to then move forward," said Shah. "And what the next steps are may include a test and may not.”

Meanwhile, officials say live your life -- but be smart about it.

"We want folks to live their lives, but we are also working hard to stop the close contacts so we avoid a spike in cases, which would be catastrophic for the community,” said Judge Hidalgo.

Harris County Homeland Security issued a warning about coronavirus-related scams that are going around.  Be very careful about which links you follow and always get information from trusted sources.

Today's top headlines:

Events canceled | School closures/changes | Map of cases | List of Houston-area cases | How to protect your pets | Coronavirus symptoms and prevention

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.

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.

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.

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.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.

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