First case of coronavirus confirmed in Knox County; health, city, airport officials release statements

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The state health department said Thursday that a coronavirus case had been confirmed in Knox County.

The Knox County Health Department spoke with WATE 6 On Your Side about an hour after the state health department’s confirmation. The City of Knoxville also responded to the first confirmed case. McGhee Tyson Airport also responded since the person had traveled through its facility.

The COVID-19 case is the county’s first amid the virus crisis declared Wednesday by the World Health Organization as a pandemic.

MORE: Knox Co. Health Dept. establishes COVID-19 public information hotline

The number of confirmed cases in the state was also updated to 18 as of Thursday: 8 in Williamson County, 6 in Davidson County, 2 in Shelby County, 1 in Sullivan County and 1 in Knox County.

MORE: Coronavirus information page | WATE

MORE: Tennessee governor declares emergency over coronavirus

Knox County Health Department speaks on the first confirmed COVID-19 case

(WATE)

A press conference with the Knox County Health Department was held at 4 p.m. Thursday.

KCHD executive director Dr. Martha Buchanan said at the press conference that the case was an isolated case and the person was tested in a medical facility. The person also had self-quarantined and was not hospitalized. They had been exposed overseas.

Dr. Buchanan also said it was not a case of community transmission, but, it was still important for anyone who is sick to stay home.

“I can’t emphasize enough to stay home if you’re sick,” said KCHD executive director Dr. Martha Buchanan.

Currently, the coronavirus is not widespread in the county.

Buchanan also said the KCHD will be giving frequent updates on the coronavirus in order to educate and inform the community.

RELATED: Knox County Schools close early before spring break citing ‘public health developments’

City of Knoxville issues response to first confirmed COVID-19 case in Knox County

Following the state health department confirming a coronavirus case in Knox County, the city of Knoxville issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

“The City of Knoxville will follow Knox County Health Department and CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection,” the city’s release stated. “Currently COVID-19 is not widespread in Knox County, but the City of Knoxville is taking precautions.”

Several events scheduled to take place in the city have been canceled by organizers, while the City has canceled its Neighborhood Conference scheduled for March 28, 2020.

“The City of Knoxville has been preparing for a positive COVID-19 case in our area. At this time no city services are being impacted, but we are being cautious and evaluating the situation constantly,” said Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.

MORE: Coronavirus Timeline: 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tennessee; several events canceled

McGhee Tyson Airport releases statement about passenger exposed to COVID-19

Thursday night, officials with the McGhee Tyson Airport released a statement regarding the passenger who had been exposed to coronavirus who is also Knox County’s first case.

The person, whom health officials were calling an isolated case, had flown into the airport after traveling overseas, according to KCHD officials.

KCHD epidemiologists are working with the Tennessee Department of Health and following CDC guidance to contact and monitor anyone who may have been exposed to this isolated case, airport officials said.

The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority said it will continue to work closely with the KCHD and the CDC; complying with CDC prevention guidelines.

The Airport Authority said it has also taken the following measures to supplement its established cold and flu season cleaning efforts:

  • Restrooms are cleaned hourly with multipurpose cleaner, degreaser and sanitizer.
  • No contact vapor sterilizers are used daily with hospital grade disinfectant.
  • Hand sanitizer is in all airport restrooms.
  • We have increased cleaning of highly used areas of the terminal building where passengers and guests congregate.
  • Airport employees and tenants have received the CDC’s prevention guidelines. A copy of these guidelines can be found on the CDC’s website.

The airlines that serve McGhee Tyson Airport have issued travel alerts pertaining to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

Allegiant Air
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Frontier Airlines
United Airlines

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