News Release

Texas Health and Human Services Commission

Dr. Courtney N. Phillips
HHS Executive Commissioner
Date:March 2, 2020
Contact:
Christine Mann, 512-424-6951

HHS Monitors Coronavirus, Provides Guidance to Long-Term Care Facilities

March 2, 2020

AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services continues to closely monitor the novel coronavirus outbreak and provide guidance to licensed long-term care facilities to prevent the spread of respiratory infection in the state.

“While the risk of coronavirus infection in Texas remains low, we’re preparing for the potential spread of the virus within long-term care settings where older residents are particularly vulnerable to disease,” said David Kostroun, HHS deputy executive commissioner for Regulatory Services. “We are taking simple, but effective precautions and providing guidance to the facilities we regulate to help protect long-term care residents, employees and visitors from respiratory illness.”

To date, there have been no confirmed novel coronavirus cases that have originated in Texas.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend long-term care facilities such as nursing and assisted living facilities use the same general strategies that are used to detect and prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like the flu.

Long-term care facilities in Texas are required to maintain infection prevention and control programs to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Facilities are required to report any suspected outbreaks to the local health department or the Department of State Health Services.

Texas HHS is also encouraging facilities to post signs at the entrance instructing people not to visit if they have symptoms of any respiratory illness. Long-term care facilities should also ensure sick leave policies allow employees to stay home when ill, monitor and isolate residents with fever or acute respiratory symptoms to their rooms, provide infection control training, require frequent handwashing, and provide the right supplies for personal protective equipment. For more information on guidance for long-term care facilities, visit the CDC’s site.  

If a facility believes a resident, visitor or employee may have been exposed or infected with COVID-19, they should contact their local health department or the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Texas HHS licenses and regulates 3,240 nursing and assisted living facilities throughout the state. The agency is currently developing additional infection control guidance for licensed health care facilities, child care operations, and other regulated entities.

Texas HHS is working closely with DSHS, the Texas Department of Emergency Management and other agencies to monitor and assess the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

Texans are encouraged to visit the DSHS website and the CDC page for up-to-date information on the COVID-19.