Cumberland County joined a growing number of communities across the state with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As of Monday at press time, there were two confirmed cases in the community. Further information about the patients — such as gender, age or where they work — are not released by the Tennessee Department of Health.
Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster wrote in a Sunday update, “The patients have been placed in quarantine and are recovering at home. Contact tracing is standard in these cases. That is all the information that has been released at this time.”
Tennessee climbed to 505 confirmed cases on Sunday and recorded two deaths from the disease, both in the Nashville area.
Department of Health spokesperson Kelley Walker told the Chronicle the department works with each patient to identify other close contacts who may have been exposed to the illness, and then reach out to those contacts to provide information and guidance.
Most cases have been identified in Davidson County, with 167 cases. Shelby County in West Tennessee follows with 66 confirmed cases, Williamson County in Middle Tennessee with 48 cases, and Sumner County in Middle Tennessee with 22 cases.
Hamilton County reported eight cases and Knox County reported five.
Putnam County has reported six cases, with one in Roane County and two in Scott County.
Eighty-two persons tested positive list home addresses outside Tennessee. Information on their current location is not available. Thirty confirmed positive cases are for people with unknown addresses.
Sunday, Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order limiting gatherings too fewer than 10 people, closing gyms and fitness centers, halting visitors to nursing homes or other assisted-living facilities, and closing restaurants and bars to in-person dining.
He told people to work from home “when feasible,” but his order does not mandate sheltering in place for two weeks. Similar orders are in place around the country at this time.
Dr. Chad Conatser, a physician with Acute Care Clinic in Crossville, said he supports Lee’s order, but believes nonessential services should have been closed at least through the end of President Donald Trump’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread.
“I support the order by Gov. Lee, but it’s too soft in light of the pandemic crisis we are currently facing — and I worry compliance will be poor at best,” he said. “There are heroes all around us. Be my hero, and stay home.”
Conatser said the virus will continue to spread in the community, but steps like limiting group size and not permitting people to travel in groups can help slow the spread of the virus.
“Tennesseans have zero immunity to the COVID-19 virus, and if the spread continues as projected by the numbers on TN.gov, our hospitals will be overwhelmed in the coming days,” he said. “Our goal, however, is to slow the spread over time. That’s what’s meant by flattening the curve. This will allow our hospitals, doctors and researchers the precious time they need to treat sick and critically ill patients and develop treatments and vaccines going forward.”
He encouraged people to take part in outdoor activities — like walking and hiking — but to make sure they keep 6 feet from others. Other advice for general good health also applies now — eat more citrus fruits, red peppers and broccoli to boost your immune system; don’t smoke; drink alcohol in moderation; exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes daily; get adequate sleep and keep consistent sleep and wake times; and try to minimize stress.
Also, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t available. If you are sick, stay home. Cover your cough. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently.
“If you are sick, please call your doctor first,” he added. “There are new regulations that allow your doctor to see you face-to-face via telemedicine. That limits exposure to both parties.”
The city of Crossville announced it would be closing playgrounds Monday in the wake of Lee’s order. City hall will also only be open by appointment, with online and drive-thru services available.
Events at the Palace Theatre were previously canceled through April.
Foster moved the courthouse to appointment-only visits last week. He also encouraged residents to call the office before visiting to see if they could find assistance over the phone.
County events at the Cumberland County Community Complex have been canceled through May 10.
Foster said, “Over the next several weeks, we might all suffer some inconveniences. We may have to use drive through services, the internet, the phone and mail to conduct business … There may be other temporary closures of businesses in the community, but this will end, and we will be stronger as a community.”
Cumberland Medical Center and Covenant Health announced new visitation guidelines, which began Friday. Under the new guidelines, visitors are no longer allowed at the hospital unless they are visiting a loved one for end-of-life care or are vital to the care of the patient. Patients having surgery, testing or giving birth are permitted one caregiver or birthing partner.
East Tennessee hospitals and medical groups announced they would also stop performing non-essential procedures for adults until further notice. East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will limit certain non-essential pediatric procedures, as well.
Non-essential procedures are procedures where the delay will not likely contribute to significant disease progression or patient harm, or symptom reduction measures are available to the patient during the day.
Emergency services continue to operate. Courts are operating under the guidelines developed by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Convenience centers remain open, though everyone is reminded to practice social distancing.