The state health department has notified Panola County of its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus, County Judge LeeAnn Jones said Tuesday.

Jones said health officials were investigating whether the case was travel-related or community spread.

Further details about the case were not immediately available.

Jones declared a state of disaster in Panola County last Wednesday in response to COVID-19. County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve the coronavirus declaration of local disaster. Jones’s office said Tuesday she was also working on a shelter-in-place order.

The commissioners meeting is physically closed to the public but may be attended through Zoom, an application that can be downloaded on a phone or computer. After downloading Zoom, join the meeting with the code 551-893-257.

Coronavirus cases have been reported throughout East Texas and Northwest Louisiana, including counties and parishes surrounding Panola County. A list of cases from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Northeast Texas Public Health District and local officials on Tuesday included:

  • 1 in Harrison County
  • 3 in Rusk County
  • 4 in Shelby County
  • 32 in Smith County (1 death)
  • 5 in Gregg County
  • 2 in Cass County
  • 2 in Upshur County
  • 222 in Caddo Parish
  • 56 in Bossier Parish
  • 28 in DeSoto Parish

The Light and Champion newspaper, in Center, was reporting four COVID-19 cases in Shelby County, with at least one case stemming from community spread.

Testing

UT Health Carthage’s current testing protocol requires clinicians to contact local county health departments for determination of further COVID-19 testing if other illnesses, such as the flu, are ruled out.

Public and private labs are currenting analyzing tests, including the Public Health Lab of East Texas in Tyler. On Sunday, the Northeast Texas Public Health District reported that lab had tested 499, with 33 being positive and 475 being negative.

The Carthage hospital is pre-screening all patients and asking them to call (903) 596-DOCS before visiting one of its facilities. Those patients experiencing symptoms with COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, are being directed to a respiratory clinic for further assessment. The clinic is located across the street from the hospital’s emergency room.

Health officials are recommending the following tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.
  • If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs and other places touched often.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practicing social distancing. Social distancing involves staying at least six feet away from other people to avoid catching or spreading illness.

This post will be updated.