Harris County

Health Officials Confirm First Coronavirus Death In Harris County

The man, who was between 80 and 90 years old, lived in a nursing home in northwest Harris County, outside of Houston, according to the county public health office.

Andrew Schneider / Houston Public Media
Harris County Public Health Executive Director Umair A. Shah updates the public on the first coronavirus-related death in the greater Houston area.

A Harris County man confirmed positive for COVID-19 died Thursday, health officials said. It is the first reported death in the greater Houston area connected with the coronavirus.

The man, who was between 80 and 90 years old, lived in a nursing home in northwest Harris County, outside of Houston, according to the county public health office. He was confirmed positive Wednesday, and his death was announced Thursday afternoon.

There is no evidence that the man traveled anywhere, marking a further indication of community spread, according to Harris County Public Health Executive Director Umair A. Shah.

"This is an indication of not just the fact that we’re seeing community spread, but this is also an indication of exactly what…all of us in the region have been saying, that this is not just a minor disease, that this is a serious disease,” Shah said.

It is the fourth death in Texas. Matagorda, Tarrant and Collin counties all previously reported deaths this week.

Officials visited the man’s nursing home and are investigating both staff members and residents for signs of the virus. In Seattle, an outbreak at a local nursing home led to the deaths of 35 people, and Shah said the hope is to stop it Harris County before such an outbreak occurs.

"It's absolutely critical that we really understand what's happening in any of those facilities," Shah said.

Shah also updated the total number of Harris County coronavirus cases to 24, bringing the total in the greater Houston area to more than 65.

One of the new confirmed cases is an individual with no travel history, and four of the five new cases are in northwest Harris County, according to a release from Harris County Public Health.

The sharp increase can be attributed in part to community spread, as well as to increases in testing. Private facilities opened their doors this week for public testing, and hundreds of people waited in line for a drive-through test at the United Memorial Medical Center on Thursday, the first free drive-through test in the city.

Of the 24 cases in Harris County, three have recovered, according to the health department.

Kirk McDaniel and Andrew Schneider contributed to this report.

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