KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The new coronavirus, COVID-19, has not yet made its way to Tennessee, but the first case contracted from an unknown source has reached the U.S.
Local health officials said that even though there are at least 15 confirmed cases in the U.S., there is no need to panic.
“For most people, even if they do get exposed to this virus, it’s going to be relatively mild symptoms. In some people it will be a mild cold (or) a fever,” Dr. Mark Browne, Chief Medical Officer for Covenant Health, said.
Browne said that there are several ways to limit the chance of exposure and spreading the virus.
He said that, from what the Centers for Disease and Prevention knows so far, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and spreads similarly to the flu: Through respiratory droplets.
Browne said the following are some ways to keep your family protected:
- Wash hands as often as possible
- Cover mouth when sneezing or coughing with either tissue or elbow
- Wash hands after sneezing or coughing
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Don’t touch your face
- Don’t shake other people’s hands
- Disinfect commonly touched items, such as phones, desks, doorknobs, etc.
- If you are sick, stay home as much as you can
One item not listed: Face masks.
Browne reiterated what the CDC has been stating about wearing masks, saying that only the people who are already sick and health professionals should be wearing them.
He said if you’re not sick, you don’t need a mask.
Browne also said you don’t have to prepare as if there is going to be a storm and buy bread, water or gas.
He said that the best thing people can do is stay up-to-date with the new information the CDC distributes.
Browne said that because the virus is new and unknown, the information is constantly changing.
He also said that if you believe you might have the coronavirus, you should call your doctor or hospital first so they can take the proper precautions ahead of time.