Knox County Health Department: Residents self-quarantining and tests sent to state for coronavirus testing


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Health Department Director Martha Buchanan said despite the first case of COVID-19 making its way to Tennessee, you are more likely to get sick from the flu than the strain of coronavirus. This comes while the department has sent tests to the state from some Knox County residents who are self-quarantining themselves out of caution.

Dr. Buchanan met with the media on Thursday to answer questions and provide guidance to the public about the virus after Gov. Bill Lee announced the first positive case of the virus in Williamson County.

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“With as much as we travel and as international as we are, it is not surprising we have a case in Tennessee,” Buchanan said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see a case in every state in the nation eventually.”

Buchanan said despite the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading there are only two ways to contract it: Direct exposure, being in contact with someone who has the virus less than 6 feet away and for more than six hours; or travel to a place where community passing has occurred.

“For the general population, even though we have a case of coronavirus in Tennessee, for most of the state of Tennessee, you are more likely to get the flu right now than the coronavirus,” Buchanan said. “You have to get exposed to the guy who’s sick.”

Tests and self-quarantining in Knox County

Buchanan said there are some Knox County residents who are self-quarantining after coming back from the countries where community passing has occurred (Italy, Japan, China and South Korea).

Tests on some of those self-quarantining have been sent to the Tennessee Department of Health. Results coming back from TDOH usually take 24 to 48 hours to come back, Buchanan said.

“I think it is important for the community to understand we are prepared,” she said.

Coronavirus tests are administered after several risk factors and/or symptoms are present. Two specimens, one from the nose and one from the mouth, are taken in the test and sent to the TDOH where a presumptive positive is sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further study.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are no presumptive possible cases of COVID-19 in Knox County, according to Buchanan.

Prevention and preparation

Buchanan said the county health department and the county mayor’s office have stayed in constant contact regarding updates on the virus from the CDC and TDOH.

When asked about prevention, Buchanan said the most important factor is soap.

“It doesn’t matter what temperature the water is, the important thing is soap and rubbing your hands together long enough that the soap gets (fragrant),” she said. “That captures the dirt and germs and washes them away down the sink.”

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Buchanan also said if you don’t have soap and water, hand sanitizer with 60 to 90% alcohol also works.

She said if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms to contact your doctor or call the hospital of your choice as all are equipped to deal with a “novelty virus,” like COVID-19.

The health department is also asking you to self-isolate by limiting contact with people, even in your house, and watch your symptoms.


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