TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Smith County resident has died from COVID-19, according to NET Health CEO George Roberts.
During a press conference Wednesday in Tyler, Roberts described the resident as a 91-year-old man who died in a local hospital. It’s the first confirmed COVID-19 death is East Texas.
There are 16 confirmed cases in Smith County, according to Roberts. Thirteen of them are in Tyler.
Roberts said he won’t go into any further details about the locations of those cases because of privacy concerns.
Roberts called the fight against COVID-19 a “team sport.”
“All we have is each other to limit the spread,” Roberts said. “Community spread. It’s not a rocket science term. It spread from people who it have it to someone else."
Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, Tyler City Manager Edward Broussard, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran and UT Health East Texas Dr. Jeffrey L. Levin were also at the press conference.
Earlier in the press conference, Heines says the city is requesting that residents shelter at home and for business owners and retailers to help make sure they are enforcing distancing inside their businesses.
He added that everyone has a responsibility to stay six feet away from each other.
“For the next several weeks, let’s be cautious as a community,” Heines said.
Right now there is no mandatory shelter-in-place order in effect, but Moran said he would not hesitate to enact restrictions “if it becomes necessary.”
As far as any shelter-in-place order in the future, Heines said the city and the county will be in lockstep with the county to avoid mixed messages.
Dr. Jeffrey L. Levin said officials are in the “mitigation phase”, or what is commonly referred to as flattening the curve in the fight against COVID-19 and keeping the health care system from being overwhelmed.
Officials again stressed the need for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to call their health care provider first. This is to give health care providers time to put on their personal protective gear and to limit their exposure to the virus.
Heines said it is OK to visit city parks but to use “great common sense and courtesy.”
Tyler City Manager Edward Broussard also emphasized the importance of social distancing, saying if you dont, “you will contract this disease and you will spread it to other people."
“This is an opportunity for you to fix this before further restrictions have to come down," Broussard said.
Another press conference is set for noon Friday, according to Heines.
The City of Tyler will hold a press conference at noon Wednesday to discuss COVID-19.
Details are limited at this time.
KLTV will be airing the press conference live on KLTV 7 and streaming it on East Texas Now. Mobile users click here to watch.