Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Wednesday that he is in quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The governor's office released a statement saying the Republican had tested negative but he would be in quarantine as a precaution with first lady Maria Lee. The first lady tweeted Wednesday afternoon that she also tested negative and said she and the governor both feel well.
“Today, a member of the governor’s executive security detail has tested positive for COVID-19," the statement read. “Gov. Lee is feeling well and has tested negative for COVID-19 but out of an abundance of caution, he is quarantining at home with the first lady until further notice.”
No other information about the security staffer's exposure was immediately available.
Tennessee reported an increase of 1,709 cases of the virus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 220,538 since the pandemic began in March. There have been 2,828 deaths in Tennessee, up 31 deaths from the day before. There are 1,101 Tennessee patients hospitalized at this time.
In Cumberland County, the number of active cases increased by 8 to 163 cases. To date, 24 county residents have died from the illness, an increase of five since Oct. 1.
Sixty-three people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since March, with five hospitalizations since Oct. 1.
Last week, the school system reported five positive cases among students and nine among staff members. There were 224 students quarantined due to exposure to the virus and five staff members quarantined. Though schools are on fall break this week, quarantine extends for 14 days from the date of last exposure.
The Upper Cumberland region is seeing an increase in cases, according to analysis by the Upper Cumberland Medical Society. For the week ending Oct. 10, the 360,000-person region averaged 44.5 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Cumberland County had 125 new cases during the seven days before the report, with an average of 30 new cases per 100,000 people.
“From fall break until New Year’s, there will be many multi-generational family and group gatherings indoors,” said Dr. Jim Gray, secretary of the Upper Cumberland Medical Society, which is tracking the spread of the virus in the Upper Cumberland region.
He recommended everyone wear a mask to help stop the spread of respiratory droplets and aerosols that may contain the virus, even when people have no symptoms of the illness.
“While you may feel healthy enough to survive a COVID-19 infection, many Americans and many Upper Cumberland region citizens are not,” Gray said in an Oct. 7 update.
Gray noted the high number of deaths statewide for older residents — people age 50 and older account for 93.6% of the deaths in the state, as of Oct. 10, but only 30% of the total number of cases.
County-level data on the number of deaths by age is not available, but Cumberland County reported 62 active cases among residents age 51-80 and 67 cases among residents 21-50. There were 14 cases of children ages birth to 20.
Gray said, “82% of cases are transmitted by people 60 years old and younger. 85% of the deaths are in people older than 60. Many of those transmitting the disease to seniors have no symptoms. This will make traditional multigenerational gatherings in the Upper Cumberland risky this holiday season.”
Gray notes the chance of dying from COVID-19 is 1.3% for all ages, but that chance increases significantly with age, with people age 81 and older reporting a 15.8% death rate.
“Keep your family and friends safe,” Gray said. “Help protect the health care workers on the frontlines who cannot socially distance from patients ill with COVID-19. Help slow the virus. Protect yourself. Slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask in public and at multigenerational indoor family gatherings.”