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Most visitors now banned at Texas Medical Center hospitals

The crackdown will be tough on patients and their loved ones but it's necessary to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

HOUSTON — The Texas Medical Center Friday announced a new policy restricting all visitors in hospitals and clinics to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Pediatric hospitals and units will be generally exempted from these restrictions.

Individual exceptions will be managed by each institution. Compassionate exceptions will be reviewed for visitors 18 years of age and over for situations that include visiting a patient with a terminal condition, patients requiring a legal guardian, and for patients with disabilities. 

Hospitals also will consider exceptions for the NICU, maternity and postpartum units and life-saving care. 

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“We recognize that this is difficult for families who want to be with their relatives who are hospitalized, but it has become critical that we keep the number of people in clinical settings to a minimum,” said William McKeon, President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center. “These actions are being taken to maximize our member institutions’ ability to protect patients, their families, and, critically, healthcare providers.”

Leaders of TMC institutions are meeting daily to work collaboratively on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to provide the best of care while focusing on the health and safety of patients and staff.

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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.

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