New coronavirus

Gregg County health officials are working with others from throughout East Texas to coordinate a response for the potential arrival of the new coronavirus in the region.

Officials have scheduled a news conference for noon Tuesday at the Gregg County Courthouse, 101 E. Methvin St., Longview, to discuss emergency preparation being taken at the local level and to encourage residents to take preventive actions, according to information released Friday by the city of Longview.

Representatives from the Gregg County Health Department, Northeast Texas Public Health District in Tyler, local municipalities and hospitals will participate in the news conference. The Gregg County Health Department is the primary local contact; it can be reached at (903) 237-2620.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued health alerts regarding a novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, which was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and has spread to other parts of the world including the United States. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gregg County and the threat to East Texas remains low. However, local health officials encourage residents to take precautions to avoid exposure and spread of viruses.

According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

As such, please remember these key steps for preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

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