9 and counting: What does ‘community spread’ of COVID-19 mean for you
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
By SARA VANDEN BERGE
Erath County officials confirmed a ninth case of COVID-19 on Friday.
The patient has been in quarantine since being tested.
Dr. Kelly Doggett, the city’s health authority, said he is certain that coronavirus is now being passed from person-to-person by “community spread.”
But what does “community spread” actually mean?
“If we can tell how or where a person became infected such as travel to a hotspot or contact with a confirmed positive COVID case, that is not community spread. We know where it came from. With community spread the source of infection is unknown. It was transferred from some unidentified carrier,” Doggett said.
“With regard to the spread of coronavirus, that’s a game changer. People are asking where these cases are, wanting to know neighborhoods of affected individuals so they can avoid them.
“First of all, we cannot divulge that information due to privacy laws. Unknowingly violating a person’s protected health information can result in up to a $50,000 fine. Knowingly violating these laws can result in much stiffer fines.
“I can tell concerned citizens whom to avoid. Everyone. Assume every person you see may be an asymptomatic carrier. Assume it’s everywhere. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay home.”
City, county and Tarleton officials say they are staying in constant touch with state health officials to monitor the spread of COVID-19.
“(Our) main concern is for the public health and safety of our residents,” a release issued by the county states.
Residents are being asked to shelter in place, practice social distancing and only leave their home when absolutely necessary.
Residents experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath or who have been exposed to someone diagnosed with or tested for COVID-19 should contact the Stephenville Medical and Surgical Clinic for tele-screening at 254-968-6051.