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VA Health Care System Screening Visitors, Patients For Coronavirus

South Texas Veterans Health Care System

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still considers COVID-19 to be a low threat to the general American public, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System has begun screening everyone -- patients, employees and contractors -- who enter three of its units.

The three units are the Community Living Center, the Spinal Cord Injury Center and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, according to a South Texas VA spokesperson.

Screenings at the entrances to Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital and Kerrville VA Hospital were expected to begin on Friday.

The screening consists of three questions about symptoms and recent travel history:

1. Do you have a fever or worsening cough or flu-like symptoms?
2. Have you traveled to China, Japan, Italy, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days?
3. Have you been in close contact with someone, including health care workers, confirmed to have the coronavirus disease?

VA officials in other areas of the country have said that the screenings could be ramped up to include temperature testing if that becomes necessary.

The screenings may increase the amount of time it takes to gain entry to the VA, so patients are advised to arrive early for their appointments.

The VA is also encouraging patients and staff to wash their hands; use hand sanitizers with an alcohol content above 60%; avoid touching their faces; and stay home if they’re feeling sick.

Per CDC guidance and VA protocols, people at risk for COVID-19 infection will be isolated to prevent potential spread.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly explained the extent of the screenings throughout the Health Care System. The measures are currently limited to the three units mentioned above.

Carson Frame can be reached at Carson@TPR.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame.

Carson Frame can be reached carson@tpr.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame