A case of the coronavirus has been found in Shelby County, according to Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, who made the announcement Sunday morning about 10 a.m.
Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said results came back Saturday from the state lab confirming the case of the coronavirus in Shelby County.
“The specimen will be sent to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for additional confirmation, but we do not anticipate any changes in the results,” said Haushalter.
“The individual … traveled out of state recently. And that’s very important because that means, from our opinion, there is no risk to the public at large. There is risk to individuals, who have had close contact with the case, but not the public at-large.”
The Health Department is engaged in “intensive contact identification and contact tracing,” Haushalter said.
“We will identify everyone who has had close contact with the individual who has the case to make sure those individuals have the information they need, but also that they are quarantined for 14 days from the last contact they had.”
Health Department staff will monitor those individuals daily, Haushalter said.
Flanked by local health care officials and Mayor Jim Strickland, Harris detailed a commitment to regular briefings to the public and close coordination with stakeholders. Formal briefings are set for every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., with more scheduled as needed.
Meetings are continuing with municipal leaders and state officials, he said.
“Although this is a very serious environment, we don’t believe that there is a need to panic. In fact, there are things that all of us can do to mitigate the various public health concerns,” said Harris, noting that Shelby County Government already has adjusted policies to “make it easier for employees who are sick to stay home and take care of themselves.”
Harris encouraged other large employees to review their policies to help employees, who are sick, have the ability to stay at home.
Expressing confidence in the state’s leadership on the situation, Strickland said he spoke with Gov. Bill Lee and the state commissioner of health on Saturday evening. Saying city officials would work with counterparts on all levels of government, he noted measures the City of Memphis government has taken.
“Last week we sanitized all city facilities and we will continue to do so on a daily basis until we get through this,” said Strickland. “We’ve asked all city employees to use extreme caution and given them the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidance.”
First responders, particularly policemen and firemen, are well prepared for the situation, Strickland said, “not only to take care of patients as needed but to do their best to ensure that the virus does not spread further.”
Haushalter emphasized that there are things individuals can do to limit the spread of any virus, including the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Anyone who is sick with upper respiratory signs and symptoms, coughs, fever should remain at home and not be in public places,” she said. “They should not go to work, avoid church, avoid the opportunity of spreading it to other people.
“We are still in flu season; it could be flu, it could be common cold and now we are getting into allergy season. But it also could be COVID and we and we want to make sure we are reducing opportunities for that to be spread.”
Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is highly encouraged, as is cleaning surfaces with approved products, said Haushalter, adding that information is available in multiple places.