First coronavirus case confirmed in Shelby County

First coronavirus case confirmed in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County now has its first case of the novel coronavirus, city and county leaders announced Sunday.

They say a lab test sent to the state on Friday, came back late Saturday and showed a Shelby County resident tested positive for COVID-19.

The person is receiving treatment in isolation at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.

"I want to point out that the individual is recovering, doing well and receiving care at Baptist," said Alisa Haushalter, the Shelby County Health Department director.

Because of patient privacy laws, they can't share many details, but confirmed the person is not elderly.

They say the person recently traveled out of state.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, the co-director of the infection control program at Baptist, says the patient is being treated in an isolated hospital room.

"Hospital operations continue as usual and we're taking all the necessary and appropriate steps to ensure that our patients, our visitors and staff members are safe," said Threlkeld.

Haushalter say they're working on a timeline of the patient's travel and are trying to track down everyone he or she came into contact with.

The health department says letters will be sent to those people letting them know they need to self-quarantine.

"We will identify everyone that has had close contact with the individual that's a case and ensure those individuals have information they need, but also that they are quarantined for 14 days from the last contact that they had," said Haushalter.

Haushalter said there is no risk to the public at large.

The Shelby County Health Department says 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.

Health officials advise every citizen to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover their mouths and avoid touching their faces as much as possible to limit exposure.

Local leaders say they've been in contact with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey.

They say samples have also been sent to the CDC for additional confirmation, but they don't anticipate any change in the result.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris say the city and county stand ready to help in any way they can.

"We're taking this situation very seriously," said Strickland.

The Shelby County Health Department has a website dedicated to COVID-19: http://shelbytnhealth.com/, which includes important information about the virus and steps individuals, businesses, and community organizations can take to control its spread.

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