COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate for the coronavirus is currently 3.4%. The disease has already killed more than 6,100 people and if it continues to escalate, the consequences could be devastating for everyone.
COVID-19 statistics in Houston, Texas
As of March 15th 2020, there are 3,094 total cases of the coronavirus in the United States. Out of these, there have been 62 deaths.
There initially were 3 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Houston-area, this quickly grew to 70.
All cases of the coronavirus in the Houston-area are travel-related. 12 cases are from people who recently traveled on a river cruise in Egypt, while 1 case is connected to a woman previously living in Italy. There’s no information about the source of the most recent positive case discovered in a man in his 40s in Montgomery County.
A team of scientists in Houston developed a coronavirus vaccine in 2016. But lack of interest and funding meant the team was unable to move onto the testing stage and the vaccine was never released. Recently, Seattle researchers have created a new coronavirus vaccine which will be tested by volunteers in April 2020.
However, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told US senators the public won’t have access to the vaccine for at least 18 months. ADA is making similar claims, stating it will be at least 12 months before a coronavirus vaccine is available publically.
How COVID-19 could affect Houston
Several cities throughout the world have been placed under an unprecedented lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus. On January 23rd 2020, Wuhan in China was the first to enforce isolation upon its residents. Italy shortly followed on March 9th 2020, when a national quarantine severely restricting the movement of the population was put in place by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
If the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States, cities such as Houston could be forced to do the same as other cities to keep its people safe. This would mean the temporary closure of businesses, significant loss of income and possibly even the loss of jobs for some. Combine this with the high cost of coronavirus testing and healthcare in the US and it’s easy to see how COVID-19 affects many different parts of people’s lives, not just their health.
What other cities are doing to stop the coronavirus spreading
According to UNESCO, over 40 countries have announced school and university closures in favor of video distance learning. Out of these, the majority have completely closed schools nationwide. The closures are mostly due to limit the spread of the virus or to allow time for deep cleaning following a student or member of staff testing positive for COVID-19.
Some of the world’s most famous attractions have also closed or restricted entry to visitors. Disneyland in Hong Kong remains closed, as does the Colosseum and many other major attractions in Italy. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower is requesting people buy tickets online or only use bank cards to avoid the virus spreading through cash and the Louvre is asking visitors not to come if they’re feeling unwell or are travelling from an infected area.
What Houston is doing to stop the spread of COVID-19
Houston has taken several measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Rice University canceled undergraduate teaching labs and in-person classes to halt the spread. And the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ended early to stop the spread of the virus.
Dental practices are doing their part, too. WHO and the CDC are advising dental professionals to take every precaution necessary to stop the spread of the virus. As well as wearing proper PPE and adhering to strict respiratory hygiene etiquette like dental professionals regularly do during flu season, it also involves questioning patients about their recent travel and rescheduling appointments when necessary.
All direct flights from China and the EU have been redirected away from Houston Airport to other US airports with screening equipment. To be safe, Houston Airport facilities are being deeply cleaned to prevent the virus from spreading.
Is Houston, Texas ready for the coronavirus?
Houston is only as prepared as its people. If you’re a resident of Houston, it’s important you do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19. WHO recommends:
- Washing your hands thoroughly and often
- Maintaining a 1 meter/3 foot distance between yourself and anyone coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Covering your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze
- Staying at home if you feel unwell
- Keeping up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots and avoiding them
If you’re a dental professional, take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to protect your dental practice from COVID-19 for actionable steps.
As long as everyone understands the severity of the virus and commits to the above points, Houston will be as best protected from the coronavirus as it possibly can be. It’s only when people are careless and don’t take the necessary precautions that dangerous viruses like COVID-19 are able to get out of hand and spread across the globe.