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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Houston officials confirm first 3 cases of coronavirus

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston officials confirmed the first three cases of coronavirus in the nation’s third-largest county Thursday, saying the three were on a trip to Egypt with multiple people, including a fourth man from a nearby suburb who a day earlier became the first Texan to have a positive test result outside of persons repatriated from abroad.

The newest cases involve two men and a woman who are between 60 and 70 years old and remain hospitalized in stable condition, said Dr. Umair Shah, the top health official in Harris County, where Houston is located.

Officials said they believe the three were exposed to the virus while on a trip in late February to Egypt.

“There is no indication they may have contracted this on U.S. soil,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s top administrator.

The announcement came a day after Texas health officials announced that a 70-year-old man in Fort Bend County, just outside Houston, had a received a “presumptive positive” test for new virus. Officials said the man was in stable condition.

Houston officials said Thursday the Fort Bend County man was also on the same trip as the two individuals from Harris County.

Multiple people were on this trip and individuals who were in contact with the two confirmed cases from Harris County are being monitored for symptoms to determine if they need to be tested, Shah said.

The woman from Harris County who tested positive is an employee at Rice University in Houston.

The woman’s contact with the campus was limited to Feb. 24-25 and to one building, “which has been extensively and continuously sanitized along with the rest of the campus,” Rice University said in a statement.

The employee, a research staff member, did not have any contact with undergraduate students and officials are not planning to suspend campus operations or classes, the university said.

The university said it had identified 17 other individuals who had direct contact with the employee and had asked them previously to self-quarantine. None of them have reported any symptoms.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday there are now six laboratories in the state able to test for the virus.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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