The coronavirus is in Tennessee and here’s what you need to know


A sign reminding people to wash their hands is pictured outside a dormitory at the Washington State Patrol Fire Training Academy which has been designated as a 2019 novel coronavirus quarantine site for travelers from Hubei Province, China. (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19, known as the novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is officially in the Volunteer state.

So far four cases have been confirmed across the state, one in the Mid-South and two in middle Tennessee.

At this time, state health officials are not saying what part of the state the four case is in.

Shelby County

Director of the Shelby County Health Department Dr. Alisa Haushalter said in a press conference Sunday morning the department received the positive results on Saturday and sent the information to the CDC.

“From our opinion, there is no risk to the public at large,” Haushalter said.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he had spoken with Gov. Bill Lee and sanitized city facilities. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said county government policies were being adjusted to allow any workers who might have symptoms of illness to stay home.

WREG’s Alex Coleman spoke with Dr. Manoj Jain on how local medical professionals are handling the situation.

Williamson County

WREG’s sister station in Nashville confirmed the state’s first case in Williamson County on March 5.

According to health officials, a man is in isolation at his middle Tennessee home after he tested positive for the virus.

Officials say he traveled from Boston to Nashville on a non-stop flight. WREG’s sister station reports the man returned to middle Tennessee four or five days before he tested positive for the virus.

Schools in Williamson County are closed until Tuesday so school officials can deep clean the school buildings due to this specific case. At the time, the state health department reported there were two coronavirus tests pending.

Davidson County

Davidson County Health Officials are also handling a case of the novel coronavirus.

Health officials said on Sunday morning that a Nashville woman tested positive for the virus and is isolated at home. They mentioned that the case is not considered travel related but did not specify how the woman came in contact with the virus.

Last week, a student at Vanderbilt University tested positive for the virus while they were out of state, visiting their hometown. Vanderbilt’s campus newspaper reports the student was studying abroad in Florence, had been sent home to Chicago and tested positive the next day.

What is a coronavirus?

COVID-19 is actually one of many viruses under the coronavirus umbrella.

The World Health Organization says coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses.

On WHO’s website, it says the illnesses range from the common cold to more severe diseases like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, known as SARS.

All coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted between animals and people.

According to WHO, several coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.


COVID-19 is the most recent virus in the coronavirus family that was discovered in humans in December of 2019 in Wuhan, China.

WHO says the disease spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth when a person coughs or exhales. To put it lighter, this means you can get the virus from an infected person when they sneeze or cough.

According to WHO, recent studies suggest the virus is mainly transmitted through sneezing and coughing. It is not considered to be an airborne illness.

The incubation period for COVID-19 range from one to 14 days. This means it could take up to two weeks from when a person catches the virus to when they start showing symptoms.

How can I protect myself?

There are multiple ways people can prevent catching the COVID-19 should they come in contact with someone who has the virus.

The biggest way to keep yourself healthy is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

WHO says people who have tested positive for COVID-19 should wear face masks. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill, then you are wasting a mask. There is a global shortage of masks and WHO is urging people to use them wisely since they can only be used once.

If you are receiving a package from an area where COVID-19 has been reported, WHO says you should be fine. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been exposed to different conditions and temperatures is low.

WHO does say that smoking, taking antibiotics and wearing multiple masks are not effective against COVID-19 and can be harmful.

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