HISD and Houston Health Dept.

  • hisd health dept. corona COVID-19: How to get tested, what to do if you test positive, and where to seek help
    The following information was provided to HISD by the Houston Health Dept. and can be used by all employees regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in an HISD medical plan.

    COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that primarily spreads between people who are in close contact (about six feet) when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or specific medication to help people who are sick.

    The main symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include muscle and body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, stay at least six feet from others and call your doctor. 

    Most healthy people who get COVID-19 will experience mild to severe symptoms and recover.

    People with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity are more likely to suffer severe outcomes, including death. 

    What you can do right now
    Minimize contact with others and avoid leaving home as much as possible. Those who must work away from home or leave home for other reasons should follow these guidelines:

    • Wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public. Your mask helps protect people around you, and their mask helps protect you.
    • Social distance by staying at least six feet away from other people.
    • Wash hands with soap and water often. When you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
    • Get tested. It’s FREE, safe, confidential, and you don’t need insurance or proof of citizenship. Visit houstonemergency.org or call 832-393-4220 for information on how to get tested and to schedule an appointment at one of the locations across the city.

    Getting tested
    If you are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus or think or know that you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, you owe it to yourself, your loved ones, your co-workers, and your community to schedule a test. The Houston Health Department and agency partners offer free testing sites across the city with Spanish speakers onsite.

    Visit houstonemergency.org or call 832-393-4220 for information on how to get tested and to schedule an appointment at one of the locations across the city. Getting tested at Houston Health Department-affiliated sites is free, and does not require proof of residency, citizenship or insurance.

    Anyone, regardless of symptoms, may get tested. Information on the locations of free testing sites is updated daily and can be found at houstonemergency.org/covid-19-testing. Scheduling a COVID-19 test through the secure website or by phone is safe. Houston Health Department COVID-19 workers are sworn to confidentiality. You will not be asked to provide your social security number, bank account information, or proof of citizenship. COVID-19 testing does not affect Green Card status or application for a permanent residency card. Undocumented individuals will not be deported if they test positive.

    I’ve tested positive … now what?
    If a person tests positive, personnel from the laboratory performing test analyses will contact them within three days with results by phone only. To protect their privacy, they will not leave messages and will attempt to call only two times.  A Houston Health Department contact tracer will reach out via phone, text or email. Making a choice to work with contact tracers helps protect family and community by slowing the spread of COVID-19:

    • The contact tracer will discuss with whom they have been in close contact and ask them to stay at home separated from family, and if possible, self-isolate.
    • The contact tracer will contact the people with whom they had close contact to ask if they have symptoms and offer guidance about testing and quarantine.
    • Unless they give permission, their name will not be given to those they identify as close contacts.
    • Information gathered through contact tracing is not used for any other purpose.
    • It is important to be forthcoming with the contact tracer, as the information is vital to stopping the spread of disease.
    • Contact tracers will never ask for social security, bank or credit card information. 

    For those who are unable to work for an extended period because of a positive test, there are a variety of resources available for assistance. The Houston Food Bank offers services for families that have been affected by COVID-19. They employ certified navigators who assist with SNAP applications, utility assistance, and rental assistance. Lone Star Legal Aid can assist with COVID-19-related eviction and foreclosure information, unemployment compensation, public benefits, and domestic violence situations.  

    The 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE is a free helpline operated by United Way of Greater Houston 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in many languages. Trained specialists provide information and referrals from a variety of social service organizations. There may also be resources available to help during the period of isolation (i.e., help you find a free place to stay and self-isolate). 

    Responsibility to family and friends
    Fall is a great time to enjoy family and friends at a variety of gatherings. Please follow these steps to keep everyone safe and healthy:

    • Greet each other by smiling and waving; do not hug or shake hands
    • Provide masks or ask guests to bring their own
    • Limit people in food preparation areas
    • Assign individuals to prepare or serve food, utensils or condiments
    • Spread out tables and chairs to keep everyone six feet apart
    • Take turns visiting the food table
    • Clearly mark handwashing and sanitizing areas
    • Clean and disinfect high touch areas every 20 minutes
    • Wash your hands before and after eating or handling food
    • If you attend an event and do not have a mask, are not provided one, and are unable to practice social distancing, you need to leave

    Helpful websites