SAN BENITO — Health officials are recommending communities and schools take steps to protect against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19.

The COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

It has caused an outbreak of respiratory illness and there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States related to travel.

Cameron County Commissioners Court issued an update late Wednesday seeking to reassure the community.

“We understand that there are concerns of Coronavirus, but we currently do not have any confirmed cases in Cameron County,” County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. stated. “Even so, our public health and emergency management departments are in constant communication with local hospitals, medical providers, state and federal authorities as they continue to monitor the situation.”

The release added that, “as with any virus, the public is encouraged to practice good hygiene practices for everyday prevention measures.”

The Cameron County Health Department had this common-sense advice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus: wash your hands thoroughly and often, and cover your cough or sneeze.

The advice boils down to practicing good personal hygiene, and going to the doctor if you do feel sick, Cameron County Health Administrator Esmeralda Guajardo said.

“Even though we don’t have a confirmed case of the coronavirus we have to acknowledge that we are a travel area. Right now we are getting a lot of phone calls about this virus but there’s only so much we can do. The public has to do its part as well,” she said, adding that good hand-washing is just as effective as hand sanitizers in any case.

San Benito CISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman recently issued a statement regarding the virus.

“I want to assure you that our school district is keeping track of this situation through proven and trustworthy sources — our local health department, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Carman stated. “These health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time.”

The statement was posted Monday and Tuesday on Facebook pages and websites of several of the district’s schools, such as the Veterans Memorial Academy and the Angela G. Leal Elementary School.

According to the statement, people considered at risk are those who traveled to China or those in close contact with people infected with COVID-19.

The DSHS website states the United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with the virus on Jan. 30, 2020.

“While a new type of illness can be scary, we can protect our students, teachers and the broader community by using simple everyday actions that protect people from other types of respiratory viruses,” Carman stated in the letter.

According to the statement, the district’s teachers, school nurses and staff are working carefully to encourage simple and effective habits of covering coughs and sneezes, frequent hand washing, and frequently cleaning classroom tables and surfaces.

“This is important not just to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, but to help prevent the spread of other infections that can lead to student illness and absences,” Carman stated.

Brownsville Herald reporter Gary Long contributed to this report.

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PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF ILLNESSES

• 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 mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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WHAT YOU SHOW KNOW

• The coronavirus is believed to be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

• Symptoms can be fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

• Updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the coronavirus in the United States can be found at https://tinyurl.com/wz7ojes.