Expert says you’re unlikely to have COVID-19 if you haven’t left Tipton County

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Kevin Morris, a regional epidemiologist with the Tennessee Dept. of Health, urges you not to ask for COVID-19 testing unless you have symptoms of the virus and have been in an area where there have been confirmed cases.

“Most cases are just the cold or flu,” he said Wednesday by phone. “We don’t have an active community transmission in Tipton right now, so it’s unlikely the average person who hasn’t left Tipton County will test positive. ”

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Fever, cough and shortness of breath are the main symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus. Those who’ve traveled to areas with active transmission, such as New Orleans and New York, are considered higher risk as are senior citizens, those who are immunocompromised and pregnant women.

Outside of Shelby County’s four cases, there have been no confirmed cases in West Tennessee.

What if you think you could have COVID-19?

Morris encourages people displaying symptoms to call their primary care physician instead of visiting their office, the hospital, urgent care or the health department.

“We really don’t want people to overreact. We don’t want people flooding the doctor’s offices or the emergency room. We don’t want them to overburden the healthcare system.”

COVID-19 coronavirus is still not fully understand, thus it’s hard, said Morris, to know when and if it’s being transmitted by people who are not showing symptoms.

“People are most infectious when they’re symptomatic, but when they’re showing mild or no symptoms it could be spread because people are walking around

Morris said it’s true some people, such as Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Durant, are asymptomatic and still test positive for coronavirus.

“… But they will recover just fine at home.”

Who is being tested in Tipton County?

Talking about the availability of testing is where things get confusing for the general public.

Morris said every physician in the state has access to the test, but access is limited to testing supplies.

Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said Tuesday there weren’t enough test kits.

“There are a lot of test kits coming, but we still don’t know how many the state of Tennessee is going to see.”

Baptist-Tipton Administrator Parker Harris confirmed the hospital has had three patients meet the Centers for Disease Control criteria for testing as of Wednesday afternoon.

“All three patients were tested,” he said. “We haven’t received any results yet.”

The cost of testing is also uncertain, but is likely dependent upon your healthcare provider and insurance policy.

“We’re trying to weed out the people we called the ‘worried well,'” said Morris. “These are the people who are just worried they may have it even if they don’t have symptoms. Maybe they’ve been watching too much news and they’re panicked.”

Don’t panic over increase in confirmed cases

The numbers of confirmed cases will increase daily, Morris said, but he doesn’t want the public to panic about that.

“Expanded testing capabilities increase exponentially every day, so the more people who are being tested, the greater the number of confirmed cases will be.”

This week the number of confirmed cases has increased from 52 to 73 to 98. Most cases are in Davidson and Williamson counties. To date, 67 of those cases were patients who are 18-49 years old.

“Don’t be alarmed, that’s just a result of increased testing,” said Morris. “We’re trying to avoid testing people who don’t have symptoms or are nervous about a snotty nose. That’s a million times more likely caused by the cold or the flu.”