Coronavirus confirmed in Memphis area, health officials report

Published 8:05 am Monday, March 9, 2020

Memphis area officials confirmed Sunday the first known case of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 in the area.

Shelby County, Tennessee Health Department officials made the announcement in a press release Sunday.

The patient is being treated in an isolation room at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, officials reported.

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Officials said the patient had traveled out of state recently, but not out of the country.

“The Shelby County Health Department has been planning and preparing for the possibility of a case of COVID-19 since community spread of the virus was first reported in the United States,”
Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said. “The Health Department’s efforts are now focused on tracing contacts of this case and limiting the spread of the virus in Shelby County.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

The immediate risk to the general public in Shelby County is thought to be low, and there is no immediate risk to school-age children. But now is the time to prepare for the possibility of local community transmission of the virus.

Members of the general public should take simple steps to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19:

  • Washing hands with liquid soap and water, and rubbing for at least 20 seconds, or using alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
  • Staying home if you are sick, especially with respiratory symptoms.
  • Regularly cleaning surfaces touched by many people.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that older persons (60 and over) and those with underlying chronic health conditions should stay home as much as possible and avoid crowds. Wearing face masks is not necessary for the general public and may not provide protection from the virus.