The Tennessee Department of Health will no longer report the counties where coronavirus cases have been confirmed, state officials said Monday, taking a step away from reporting protocols being used by other states across the nation.
The department will from now on disclose only whether a case was identified in East, Middle or West Tennessee, per Department of Insurance and Commerce commissioner Hodgen Mainda. The department cited patient privacy concerns and standard procedures for the change.
"Our practice when we have small numbers of reportable illnesses is to give location information only by grand division of the state in order to protect the patients' identities," a TDH spokesperson told the Post.
It is not certain whether the TDH will change the policy if the outbreak worsens.
So far, cases have been identified in Williamson County, Davidson County and Shelby County. A fourth case was announced earlier today in Middle Tennessee, but did not have a county. Earlier today, the Nashville Business Journal reported that an employee of a tenant within Nashville’s iconic AT&T Tower had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and that the building has implemented an extensive cleaning regimen in response.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, House Democrats questioned the efficacy of the state’s response to the novel coronavirus.
"There is grave concern that the commissioner of health and the administration are not being transparent,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart told reporters. “They do not apparently have a comprehensive plan. We need to treat it as the emergency that it is.”
U.S. Representative Jim Cooper’s Chief of Staff, Lisa Quigley, on Twitter called the move to not disclose cases' counties “anti-public health” and said she “could not think of a more irresponsible decision.”
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