MATAGORDA COUNTY, Texas — This morning, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed the first death of a Texas resident who tested positive for the coronavirus, of COVID-19.

"The patient was a man in his 90s who was a resident of Matagorda County and had been hospitalized," read a statement from DSHS.

Matagorda County is located approximately an hour southwest of Houston, Texas.

State health officials are investigating the source of the man's infection and determining who he came into contact with while he was sick — to isolate, monitor, and test the individuals, as needed, according to the department.

“A death in Texas shows the gravity of the situation,” stated DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt. “It’s critically important for us all to take actions that will help protect our most vulnerable citizens. By working together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help ensure the health care system will be able to care for those who need it most.”

People who are 65 or older or who have an underlying health condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or cancer have a higher risk of developing severe disease if they do get COVID-19, according to health officials who advise these individuals to stay at home as much as possible and minimize close contact with other people.

People in those groups who get sick should contact a health care provider as soon as possible and follow their instructions, they advised.

At last check, on Tuesday afternoon, there were 64 confirmed cases statewide — one in Bell County, three in Bexar County, two in Brazoria County, six in Collin County, nine in Dallas County, one in Denton County, three in El Paso County, nine in Fort Bend County, onein Galveton County, one in Greg County, 10 in Harris County, one in Hays County, one in Lavaca County, one in Matagorda County, three in Montgomery County, three in Smith County, three in Tarrant County, three in Travis County, one in Webb County, and two cases pending county assignment.

“We are deeply saddened today to learn that a fellow Texan has died from COVID-19,” Governor Greg Abbott stated. “The First Lady and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and loved ones during their time of mourning."

"The State of Texas remains vigilant in our efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and will continue to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable populations and ensure that Texans have access to testing and treatment resources,” he stated.

More from the DSHS on preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Public health officials are further advising residents to limit their risk of exposure by avoiding large gatherings and crowded places, practicing good personal hygiene, and continuing their own preparations in case they need to stay home for two weeks. DSHS also urges people to follow the advice of local leaders for other community actions that will help stop the spread of the disease.