Texas Confirms First Death in COVID-19 Patient

News Release
March 17, 2020

The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed the first death of a Texas resident who tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The patient was a man in his 90s who was a resident of Matagorda County and had been hospitalized. DSHS is investigating the source of the infection and determining who the patient came into contact with while he was sick so any close contacts can be isolated, monitored for symptoms and tested, as needed.

“We are deeply saddened today to learn that a fellow Texan has died from COVID-19,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “The First Lady and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and loved ones during their time of mourning. The State of Texas remains vigilant in our efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and will continue to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable populations and ensure that Texans have access to testing and treatment resources.”

People who are 65 or older or who have an underlying health condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer have a higher risk of developing severe disease if they do get COVID-19. The safest thing for them during an outbreak is to stay home as much as possible and minimize close contact with other people. People in those groups who get sick should contact a health care provider as soon as possible and follow their instructions.

“A death in Texas shows the gravity of the situation,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “It’s critically important for us all to take actions that will help protect our most vulnerable citizens. By working together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help ensure the health care system will be able to care for those who need it most.”

There are things everyone should do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • 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.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Public health officials are further advising residents to limit their risk of exposure by avoiding large gatherings and crowded places, practicing good personal hygiene, and continuing their own preparations in case they need to stay home for two weeks. DSHS also urges people to follow the advice of local leaders for other community actions that will help stop the spread of the disease.

DSHS is posting the latest information, guidance for the public, health care providers and others, and updating case counts daily at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.


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(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS Director of Media Relations, 512-776-7119)

Last updated March 17, 2020