Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday that the state has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, reported in Middle Tennessee.
"As of last night, we have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Tennessee," Lee said.
Tennessee was one of the first five states to begin Coronavirus testing, according to Lee.
At this time, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the Williamson County man, 44, who was diagnosed with the virus has very mild symptoms and is isolated at home.
The Tennessee Dept. of Health said Friday that all of those living in the home of the patient tested negative for COVID-19. Tests on two unrelated individuals were also negative.
According to WSMV in Nashville, the man is from Williamson County and is a parent of a student at Battle Ground Academy, saying he had recently traveled outside the state. The man is being isolated at home and has mild illness.
The State Public Health Laboratory tested the man and has submitted results to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
“We are working closely with local health care partners to identify contacts and contain spread of this disease in our communities,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “We’ve been anticipating identification of COVID-19 cases in Tennessee. At this time, the overall risk to the general public remains low. We are continuing to work with the CDC and other agencies to provide guidance to Tennesseans to protect their health.”
The patient traveled on a nonstop, round-trip flight between Boston, Mass., and the Nashville International Airport about four or five days ago. The patient was asymptomatic while traveling.
"TDH is in close contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Tennessee Coronavirus Task Force Member Doug Kreulen, chief executive officer of Nashville International Airport about this case."
The Tennessee Dept. of Health said it will announce testing results of household contacts of the COVID-19 patient as well as any additional positive test results.
"We've been testing here in the state since Feb. 20," Piercey said.
There have been seven tests administered and all were negative until this instance, she said. This was the eighth test.
Two additional tests remain in progress, according to TDH.
Health department officials said they are currently following CDC guidelines on whom to test and they are very strict.
"The TDH State Public Health Laboratory has the ability to test 85 additional individuals at this time. The CDC is providing overflow testing if needed, as states build additional capacity. TDH is prioritizing testing for those who had contact with the infected individual."
On Tuesday, Blount Memorial Hospital tested a person for coronavirus, acting with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to hospital spokesman Josh West. That person has since tested negative, West said on Friday.
"Blount Memorial will continue to follow screening guidelines for coronavirus in consultation with the Tennessee Department of Health and Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC), although no daily information will be available to share related to the number of tests administered," West said in an email. "Hospital officials also encourage community members who are exhibiting symptoms consistent with coronavirus based on CDC guidelines to call their primary care physician offices."
Samples have been sent to a Nashville lab, and the hospital is awaiting the results, according to West.
The patient has been told to "self-isolate," according to West.
TDH has launched a Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line in partnership with the Tennessee Poison Center. The hotline number is 877-857-2945 and will be available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central daily.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, (MERS).
COVID-19 was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China in Hubei Province. Initial infections were linked to a wet market in Wuhan that sold both live and dead animals.
The World Health Organization states that coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted from animals to people. It is likely that the virus was transmitted from an animal at the market to humans, but a specific source has not been identified.
Since then, the virus has spread person-to-person.
The coronavirus that is currently spreading in many countries was first seen late December 2019. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2,” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019”. Prior to this, the virus was called the 2019 novel coronavirus, meaning it was a new strain of coronavirus discovered in 2019.
Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have mild respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. A smaller number of patients have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. COVID-19 is not currently widespread in the United States, so no additional precautions are recommended for the general public to take beyond normal practices to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
The CDC says there is currently no vaccine or treatment to prevent or deal with COVID-19, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends maintaining personal preventative actions such as:
- Avoiding close contact with those who are sick
- Not touching your eyes, mouth or nose, especially with unwashed hands
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Stay home if you are sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Thursday released the following statement after Governor Bill Lee announced Tennessee’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in Williamson County:
“The United States is among the countries that are best prepared to keep Tennesseans – and all Americans – safe from the coronavirus and to prepare for additional cases. Today, the Senate will be voting on nearly $8 billion in funding, including $950 million for state and local governments. Those dollars, along with screening and travel restrictions on people coming from China and other affected places, and a speed up in making diagnostic kits available to detect coronavirus are all a part of that effort. The Trump Administration is using the resources and tools that Congress has provided to respond to the coronavirus. I will work with Governor Lee to ensure the federal government is doing everything we can to assist Tennesseans.”
Alexander, as chairman of the Senate health committee, held a hearing Tuesday where he heard from “respected professionals with decades of experience” about both what individuals can do and what the federal government is doing to respond.
The next COVID-19 media briefing will be held Monday, March 9 at 4 p.m. CDT in the Tennessee State Capitol Executive Conference Room, at the meeting of Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force.