Coronavirus

UPDATE: This post was updated to show the infected patient had traveled to Boston, Mass.

Gov. Bill Lee has confirmed the first case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in Tennessee.

The 44-year-old patient is an adult male from Williamson County and is currently isolated in his home with mild symptoms, the governor said on a conference call Thursday morning. 

The patient traveled on a nonstop, roundtrip flight between Boston, Mass., and the Nashville International Airport. He returned to the area five days ago.

The aiport's CEO told WPLN reporter Blake Farmer that the man flew on Feb. 27, but did not say which flight or airline.

The man did not have symptoms while traveling. The Tennessee Department of Health says it is coordinating with the Massachusetts Department of Health and the Nashville airport CEO Doug Kreulen, who is a member of Tennessee’s coronavirus task force.

The health department tested eight people for COVID-19, including the man with the virus. Two more tests are in progress.

The department will announce the results of tests from people in the infected man’s household, as well as any other positive test results.

The health department has the resources to test 85 more people, and the Centers for Disease Control is providing overflow testing if needed. Anyone who had contact with the infected man will be prioritized for testing. 

Tennessee is the 18th U.S. state to report the virus, and the fourth in the Southeast. So far in the United States, 11 deaths have been linked to the virus, with 161 confirmed cases across the country. 

The announcement comes a day after Lee formed a task force to bolster the state’s ongoing readiness efforts

Tennessee Department of Health epidemiologist Mary-Margaret Fill said last week state laboratories testing supplies are currently limited, but today said she is confident in the state's ability to contain the spread.

They are currently working to track and test anyone the patient was in contact with while in Tennessee. He was not active outside of his home since returning to the state, health officials said. 

For more information on how to respond to COVID-19, you can go to:

• the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interim guidance for businesses and employers

• the CDC's guidance for returning travelers

• a Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance note from this morning on possible scam artists

• a recent episode of Bill Frist's "A Second Opinion" podcast discussing the virus

The public can take the following measures to help avoid spreading any sickness:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available 
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth 
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick

This story first appeared in our partner publication, Nashville Post.

This post will update.

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