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First Case Of Coronavirus Confirmed In Tennessee

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán/WPLN News

The first case of coronavirus has made its way to Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday.

“As of last night we have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Tennessee,” Lee said.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the patient is a 44-year-old man who lives in Williamson County. Piercey said he’d traveled out of state recently — but not internationally — and has been back in Tennessee for four to five days.

“We have been anticipating identification of COVID-19 cases in Tennessee,” Piercey said. “We are now working closely with the CDC and local health care partners to identify this patient’s contacts and contain the spread of this disease in our community.”

Piercey said she has talked to the patient and that he is quarantined along with his family at his home in Williamson County.

“At this time, the overall risk to the general public remains low,” Piercey clarified.

The results of the man were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further confirmation.

Mary-Margaret Pierce, the medical epidemiologist of the state, said the patient had mild symptoms but they had progressed.

The state has tested roughly 10 patients for COVID-19 since Feb. 20. Until now, all those individuals have tested negative, Piercey said.

She said the state has limited test kits, but “we have plenty for now.” The state is still trying to assess how many masks and other resources it has.

Tennessee is now part of a growing list of states that have confirmed patients with the disease. Bordering states North Carolina and Georgia have also had cases.

The news comes a day after Lee announced the creation of a coronavirus task force to develop “strong precautionary measures, resource allocation and emergency response plans.”

Lee told reporters Thursday that the public needs to avoid worrying excessively about the disease.

“I think that’s how we keep from overreacting,” Lee said. “We don’t want to understate the seriousness of the situation, but we also want to remind folks that keeping it in perspective is important — the vast number of cases are mild.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.
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