Important COVID-19 Updates for North Texas Physicians

The North Texas Medical Society Coalition is sharing two important and timely COVID-19 updates as you help navigate care for your patients. 

First, the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) has opened a second COVID-19 antibody infusion center in North Texas. The new facility, located at Collin College in McKinney, will be in addition to the existing center in Ft. Worth. Click here to access the referral form and here for location details for the McKinney location. Click here for the referral form and here for location details for the Ft. Worth location.

Second, regional hospital emergency departments are requesting that well and mildly ill patients requiring a COVID-19 test (e.g. students, teachers and others who are seeking to return to school/work, or, individuals with mild symptoms), be directed to offsite COVID testing facilities. Emergency departments are being inundated with both sick patients and COVID-19 testing requests and have asked for the assistance of referring physicians to direct test-only patients to offsite locations. To access an offsite testing location, please click here. Please advise patients to contact the testing center prior to arriving to inquire about any limitations (e.g. no pediatrics, hours, appointments needed, etc.), and other important details. Hospitals have advised that patients who present at the emergency department for testing only may be charged an emergency department visit fee. While the COVID test itself is free, a facility visit fee may apply.

Thank you for all you are doing to serve your patients and our community. You are appreciated!

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, the NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas.

North Texas Doctors Advise Parents on Fall Festivities

With fall festivities in full swing and Halloween fast approaching, physicians in North Texas have broken down traditional activities into low, moderate, and high-risk categories according to CDC guidelines.

“Some traditional Halloween festivities need to be modified this year to avoid high-risk activities involving close contact, but there are still plenty of fun holiday activities to enjoy with your kids,” said Dr. Beth Kassanoff, Vice Chair of the North Texas Medical Society Coalition and President-Elect of the Dallas County Medical Society. “Continue to stay physically distanced, wear a cloth or disposable surgical mask, and wash your hands, but have fun with the holiday.”

As with all activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants should wear a cloth face covering, maintain physical distance, and wash their hands frequently while participating in any of these activities. Additionally, wearing a cloth face covering along with a traditional costume mask over or under it should be avoided.

Low-Risk Activities:

  1. Carving and decorating pumpkins with members of your immediate household or with friends at tables 6-10 feet apart, separated by household.
  2. Halloween scavenger hunts with members of your immediate household.
  3. Decorating your home.
  4. A virtual Halloween costume contest with your school, friends, and/or family.
  5. A physically distanced Halloween movie with an outside screen and projector, or a family movie night inside with the members of your immediate household.
  6. A pinata at home with members of your immediate household.

Moderate-Risk Activities:

  1. A small group (less than 10 people) outdoor costume parade while maintaining physical distance and wearing a cloth face covering.
  2. Individual goody bags set up on an outside table for grab-and-go trick or treating. Consider leaving hand sanitizer for added safety.
  3. Visiting pumpkin patches while maintaining physical distance and wearing a cloth face covering.

High-Risk Activities:

  1. Traditional trick or treating door-to-door.
  2. ‘Trunk or Treat’ events and Fall Festivals and carnivals.
  3. Haunted Houses.
  4. Hayrides.
  5. Outdoor gatherings that do not allow for physical distancing or any indoor parties or events with individuals outside your immediate household.

Some steps you can take to mitigate concerns might include:

  1. Get your flu shot at least two weeks before Halloween.
  2. Use hand sanitizer regularly and avoid touching your face.
  3. Wear a cloth face covering if you are participating in any Halloween activities with people other than those living in your home.
  4. Wash your hands well before eating.
  5. Do not participate in activities with other people if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.

About North Texas Medical Society Coalition: 

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, the NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas. 

COVID-19 Testing, Isolation, and Quarantine Answers

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, misconceptions and confusion surrounding the virus have also increased. As more individuals come in contact with COVID-19, questions regarding best practices for isolation, quarantine, and how to obtain testing have circulated. In response, the North Texas Medical Society Coalitions (NTMSC) has provided answers for the most commonly asked questions.

Q. Does an individual need to get tested if he or she has COVID-19 symptoms?

A. Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including the following, should consider getting tested to confirm COVID-19. Always talk with your physician about the necessity and best method for obtaining a test:

  1. fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat;
  2. anyone 65-years-old or older;
  3. anyone with chronic health issues (diabetes, asthma, heart issues, etc.);
  4. first responders or essential workers; and
  5. persons without symptoms who have been actively engaged in large group settings, such as public gatherings or congregations of people, within the past 15 days.

Q.  Does an individual need to get tested if they were exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive but are not showing any symptoms themselves?

A.  Probably not. Persons who have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 but who are not symptomatic do not need to obtain a test unless it is required by an employer, school, or other third party. In all cases the person who was exposed should quarantine themselves for 14 days to ensure they do not develop symptoms. Even if the person obtains a test and it comes back as negative, it is important to complete the 14 days of quarantine since tests may give false negatives if the virus has not fully developed in infected individuals.

Q. What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

A.  Individuals who are confirmed positive for COVID-19 but who are not sick enough to require admission to a hospital should isolate themselves to one room in their home and avoid all interaction with family members and pets. Individuals who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 but do not know if they contracted the virus should quarantine themselves inside their house for 14 days to ensure they do not develop symptoms.

Q. If someone has COVID-19 and has symptoms, at what point can the individual stop isolating themselves?

A. The individual should remain in isolation until three days after a fever has subsided, respiratory symptoms have improved, and it has been at least 10 days after the first on-set of symptoms. Some employers may require two negative COVID-19 nasal swab tests done at least 24 hours apart before allowing isolated individuals to return to the workplace.

Q. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, but does not have any symptoms, how long should he or she isolate themselves?

A. Anyone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive without symptoms should isolate for 10 days. 

Q. If someone has contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, do they need to quarantine themselves? If so, for how long?

A. Anyone who has been exposed to, or in close contact with, an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to quarantine for 14 days, as it may take that long for symptoms to develop.

Q. What does being in “close contact” mean?

A.  Close contact means:

  1. Being within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer;
  2. Taking care of someone who has COVID-19;
  3. Having physical contact with someone who has the virus;
  4. Sharing eating or drinking utensils with someone who has COVID-19; and
  5. Being sneezed on or coughed on by someone who has the virus.

Q. Where can I get tested?

A. Individuals who need COVID-19 testing should contact their physicians for recommendations; if further resources are needed, they should check Txcovidtest.org to see what options are available.

Individuals are always encouraged to talk to their doctor first about the appropriate steps to take to keep themselves and their family safe in regard to COVID-19. Physicians can also provide the best advice about managing COVID-19, such as if a test is necessary or where to obtain a test.

Knowing how to respond when encountering COVID-19 is an important part of reducing the number of cases in North Texas. Combining this information with the proactive measures of masking, hand washing, maintaining physical distance, and staying home when possible empowers individuals in the community to protect themselves and others. 

About North Texas Medical Society Coalition: 

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas. 

North Texas Physicians Encourage Full 14-Day Quarantine for Those Sick or Exposed to COVID-19

 The North Texas Medical Society Coalition (NTMSC)  is encouraging those who are sick or exposed to COVID-19  to complete a full 14 days in quarantine to avoid a resurgence of the virus in North Texas.

“The respiratory symptoms from COVID-19 usually appear about five to six days after exposure, but may occur as soon as two days or as late as 14 days after exposure. People may be most likely to spread the virus to others during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms,” says Beth Kassanoff, MD, NTMSC Vice Chair. “If you get a nasal swab COVID test done too early after exposure, it will be negative, even though you may go on to develop the disease, because there are so few viral particles in your nose so soon after infection that the test cannot detect them. This possibility of a false negative test result is why anyone who has been exposed to someone known or who is suspected to be infected should stay home for 14 days even if they test negative for coronavirus.”

NTMSC makes the following recommendations for those who may have COVID-19:

  1. Self-quarantining is key – sick individuals should stay home and avoid contact with others. They should not go to work or school and should avoid public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares. Local health departments can assist with basic needs (for example, food and medication).
  2. If there has been close contact with a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19, or who was diagnosed with COVID-19 without lab testing, individuals should self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after the last contact. If a member of a household has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or is diagnosed with COVID-19, all members of that household should self-quarantine for 14 days after any sick person in the household’s self-isolation period ends. 
  3. If anyone is feeling sick they should self-isolate at home. Those who do have COVID-19 need to continue isolating until their symptoms are gone, they have not had a fever for three days, and at least 10 days after their symptoms began. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other common symptoms include chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or  loss of taste or smell. Not everyone with COVID-19 will have all symptoms and fever might not be present.  Anyone who has symptoms and wants to get tested for COVID-19 should reach out to their healthcare provider. Providers may collect samples to test or help individuals find testing sites in their area. 

Outside of self-quarantine, NTMSC continues to encourage thorough hand washing, wearing a mask, and maintaining six feet of distance from others.

About North Texas Medical Society Coalition: 

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, the NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas. 

North Texas Physicians Urge Caution, Create Memorial Day PSA

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the North Texas Medical Society Coalition (NTMSC) encourages residents and businesses to continue practicing safe physical distancing. As people gather to celebrate with friends and family, or take in North Texas’ recreational activities, it is critical to continue preventive steps to avoid spreading COVID-19. There is still no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

“Memorial Day gatherings will be a true test of how well North Texans are able to practice physical distancing. If residents and businesses do not follow physical distancing guidelines, there will likely be a spike in COVID-19 cases in the weeks that follow,” said John Flores, MD, Chair of the North Texas Medical Society Coalition. 

NTMSC has produced this video to promote safe physical distancing measures this holiday weekend.

“North Texans have done a great job  adhering to the medical community’s advice, which has flattened the COVID-19 curve. Residents and businesses must continue physical distancing efforts this holiday weekend or we risk taking a major step backwards with opening Texas,” said Collin-Fannin County Medical Society President-elect, Sejal Mehta, MD.

COVID-19 is still active and continuing to surge in parts of North Texas. Residents and businesses need to work together to prevent a further spread. The best way to do so is to follow the physical distancing guidelines that have proved successful during the pandemic: 

  1. Whether at a backyard barbeque or any other group gathering, maintain at least 6 feet of distance between guests.
  2. If you are sick, this is not a time to be out celebrating. Stay home and contact your physician. 
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. This is especially important if you are gathering with others for meals.
  4. Avoid touching your face.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces. Don’t share utensils or serving dishes. Use disposable dishes, silverware, and cups when serving others. 
  7. Wear face coverings/masks when around other people.

About North Texas Medical Society Coalition: 

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, the NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas.

NTMSC member Jonathan Williams, MD, discusses the COVID-19 surge in rural North Texas counties

Numbers of COVID-19 cases are still rising in many communities, so we must remain vigilant. The North Texas Medical Society Coalition encourages you to maintain safe physical distancing practices to protect yourself and those around you. In this short video, coalition member Jonathan Williams, MD, a physician practicing in Grayson County, talks the protective measures to take and why they are more important than ever.

“We’re Just Trying to Save Lives”

North Texas doctors call for continued physical distancing measures as rural counties see COVID-19 surge.

The North Texas Medical Society Coalition (NTMSC) is calling for additional measures as statistics show a  surge of COVID-19 cases in smaller counties. Large counties, such as Dallas and Tarrant, are continuing to struggle with high numbers of COVID-19 patients, but their cases have been effectively managed through existing hospital systems. As the number of cases have increased, the growth has spread into smaller surrounding counties–areas that do not have the support of multiple hospital systems. 

“Why should a doctor in Fort Worth care about the number of COVID-19 patients in Sherman? We have a highly mobile population in North Texas, making us more vulnerable to a rapid spread of the Coronavirus. This has already spread across the globe and it’s only 90 miles from Sherman to Fort Worth,” states Fort Worth physician, Robert Rogers, MD. 

Over the last two weeks COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in daily hospital care of presumptive COVID-19 cases in Grayson County alone. As North Texas counties slowly start to reopen, revised projections reflect rising cases doubling more than rates of recoveries. 

North Texas Infection Rate Statistics 
CountyMay 5, 2020May 12, 2020
Collin804939
Fannin2023
Dallas43706123
Denton806946
Grayson53105
Tarrant26243745

Ultimately, if rural hospitals become overwhelmed, patients will seek care in the  larger counties. The pandemic outcome depends on a balance between physical distancing, adequate testing, and contact tracing. 

“The power is with the people; everyone has to take ownership to protect themselves and others,” states Grayson County physician, Jonathan Williams, MD. 

NTMSC wants to remind the community to continue practicing safe physical distancing measures. Even though businesses are beginning to re-open, remember that some areas are at the height of risk. Because many individuals are no longer staying home, safety measures are more critical than ever to suppress the curve to a degree that is manageable in North Texas.

About North Texas Medical Society Coalition: 

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, the NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas. 

North Texas Medical Societies Launch Coalition to Help Fight COVID-19

The Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant Medical Societies have partnered to form the North Texas Medical Society Coalition (NTMSC), one of the largest physician-led COVID-19 alliances in the southern United States. With over 11,500 members, the NTMSC will collectively advise and inform North Texas communities with scientifically based information. 

Knowledge of COVID-19 and the optimal treatment approach is constantly evolving. The goal of this coalition is to provide a united voice for physicians in the North Texas region at this critical time. Doctors throughout North Texas are working on getting scientifically-based recommendations to the community on safe practices and managing healthcare. By banding together, NTMSC hopes to augment their reach to patients and to serve as a voice of clarity at a time when medical information is coming at an overwhelming pace, often leading to confusion.

North Texas infection rates have increased to more than 9,000 COVID-19 cases, while to date, Texas has 33,369 confirmed cases statewide.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for the public to wade through a large amount of information coming rapidly from different sources and to determine what is accurate, what is important, and what is applicable to North Texas and individual families and businesses.  Physicians are best positioned to use our knowledge and experience to provide recommendations that the public can trust,” states Dallas County Medical Society President-elect, Beth Kassanoff, MD.

As their first recommendation, NTMSC proposes a continuation of physical distancing practices. Texas leaders moved quickly to implement social distancing early on in the pandemic. Because of this, Texas avoided the catastrophic surge of COVID-19 as experienced in other states. NTMSC believes it is imperative that civic and business leaders, and the community as a whole, continue to practice physical distancing to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19. Failing to do so may result in COVID-19 infections at rates that require hospitalization, intensive care, and medical equipment that exceed our resources.

North Texas physicians understand that citizens live, work, and play throughout a large region and are working together with area healthcare partners, including hospitals, public health departments, and business leaders, advising on medical recommendations related to reopening business and social activities. Our physicians are following medical science, tracking public health data, and adhering to CDC guidelines for population testing, contact tracing, and treatment recommendations for COVID-19 and non-COVID patients.

About North Texas Medical Society Coalition: 

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, and Grayson counties. Founded in 2020, The NTMSC works with community healthcare partners including  public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas.