KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Health Department held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to give a biweekly update on the coronavirus.
No cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Knox County as of Tuesday, but Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the KCHD, said she anticipates cases will eventually be confirmed in the county.
“We have some community transmission happening in West Tennessee. We don’t have any cases in Knox County right now, so therefore we don’t have any community transmission happening here. People need to stay alert. They need to wash their hands, stay home if they are sick, try to avoid rubbing your eyes and nose,” Buchanan said.
She said that the KCHD will notify the public as soon as a case has been confirmed in the county.
“When we have a case, we will know where that case is. That case will be in isolation, we’ll be checking on them daily to make sure they’re staying in isolation…. People are being compliant. As I understand it from other jurisdictions who’ve had cases that folks are happy to stay home, because they really don’t want to spread this in their community so they’re staying home,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan also discussed testing for COVID-19, saying the county does not administer tests.
Instead, the county and other local hospitals take specimen samples and send those to the state.
She said that KCHD has not turned away anyone from testing, nor have they had a shortage of supplies for taking samples.
Buchanan said that the state added one new factor for testing someone: Unexplained severe pneumonia.
Now, the guidelines for testing someone is if the person has symptoms of a fever, cough and shortness of breath, along with recently traveling to impacted countries or coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
Buchanan also talked about what is meant by “exposure” to the virus.
She said exposure is being within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes, so you’re not exposed by simply passing someone on the street.
Buchanan also busted a myth that all people over 60 years old, or those with chronic illnesses will contract the virus.
She said that wasn’t accurate.
She clarified saying that people over 60 years old or those with chronic illnesses are more likely to have serious complications if they contract COVID-19.
Buchanan also touched on the aspect of travel and large events.
She said KCHD is working to contact upcoming event organizers about their plans if or when the virus spreads into the county.
“The current recommendations continue to be to have a plan. To look at it, to educate your staff about the risks. Have a place for people who get sick at your event to go, have plenty of hand sanitizers or handwashing stations available, and to be thoughtful and to pay attention to, you know, if there are cases in your community or not. That kind of changes your plan,” Buchanan said.
Talking about stores being out of hand sanitizer or hand soaps, Buchanan said people can use anything with detergent, such as dishwashing soap.
She said people should not use anything with bleach on their bodies because it is a harsh chemical.
Buchanan said though that for cleaning surfaces, you need to make sure the cleaner has bleach.
Buchanan said there was no need to panic.
As long as people washed their hands, don’t touch their face, avoid people who are sick and stay home if you’re sick, then there is no need to worry.
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