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With Coronavirus Threat Rising, Central Health-Funded CommUnityCare Health Centers is Taking Precautionary Steps to Protect Patients and Staff

There are five confirmed cases in U.S., but no reported cases in Travis County

(Austin, TX) – Central Health-funded CommUnityCare Health Centers is taking steps to inform patients about how to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses including novel coronavirus (meaning a virus that hasn’t been seen before), which the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency.

CommUnityCare operates 28 health centers in Travis, Bastrop, and Williamson counties. The Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) is following instructions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding how and what to communicate to patients.

“It’s important to note that there are other respiratory illnesses that can make you feel sick, but they’re probably not the coronavirus,” CommUnityCare Health Centers Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alan Schalscha said. “We’re in the middle of cold and flu season, which present similar symptoms as the coronavirus. We want our patients and staff to have as much information as possible to stay healthy.”

Everyone visiting a CommUnityCare health center is encouraged to wear a virus protection mask, which are provided for free at clinics. CommUnityCare is also distributing a fact sheet in English and Spanish to patients and staff throughout its health center network. The fact sheet includes prevention tips on how to protect yourself and others from respiratory illness.

To protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have not been washed.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.

To protect others:

  • Stay home while you are sick.
  • Do not be in close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces in your home.

In addition to these precautions, the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine. The CDC also recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. People who have traveled from China or been in contact with someone from China with respiratory illness symptoms should contact a doctor and make them aware of the situation.

To date, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Texas.