Coronavirus
Source: University of Tennessee

Before the rumors continues to spread, the Tipton County Director of Schools wants the public to know the truth: No, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has not made its way to Brighton High School.

Director John Combs said word was spreading the health department had been sent to the high school after a parent allegedly reported a student had been diagnosed with the disease.

It’s not true, though.

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“Our best indications are this is a kid pulling a prank,” he said. “Number one, it’s not true, and, number two, I just called the health department to confirm they hadn’t sent anyone. They have to be instructed by the state department (of health) and that has not happened.”

How are local agencies working to prevent the spread?

On Sunday, a coronavirus case was confirmed in Memphis. That patient had contact with more than 100 people in Shelby County and Mississippi, according to The Daily Memphian, and a Shelby County Schools employee was one of them. The DM is providing live updates about that case and other precautions being taken.

No cases have been diagnosed in Tipton, however Combs said the school system is taking the same measures it does to prevent the flu and other illnesses.

“We’ve been doing extra cleaning at the school and on the buses.”

Combs also encourages families to do what they can to help prevent the illness as well.

“Make sure you’re safeguarding by washing your hands, staying home if you have a fever … the same things we tell people to prevent the flu.”

A coordinated response plan has been developed for the hospital, schools and first responders, Tipton County Emergency Management Agency Director Tommy Dunavant said.

“The biggest things are doing the six things to prevent it – washing your hands, covering your cough with a tissue, throwing that tissue away, not touching your face, staying home if you’re sick and staying about six feet from people. It’s a droplet transfer, not an airborne one. Just take the common sense approach to this and be proactive because there’s no vaccine and no medicine yet to cure it.”

Like other officials and news outlets, Dunavant said he doesn’t want people to be afraid.

“There’s not need to be scared, there’s a need to be prepared. You can take preventative measures to help minimize the risks.”

Protecting the elderly

Local nursing and rehabilitation centers are also taking precautionary measures.

Covington Care’s doors are locked. Only caregivers are allowed to enter without an appointment.

Parkway Cove will be taking temperatures of the facility’s visitors.

River Terrace does not yet have any procedures in place limiting visitors but is anticipating a change being made.

Is there a shortage of supplies? 

Over the past few weeks there has been an increased demand for hand soap, sanitizer and cleaning supplies – and toilet paper, presumably for those under quarantine – and some big box stores are selling out.

Walmart, for instance, was out of disinfecting wipes this week.

Naifeh’s has increased its order for these items and everything except hand sanitizer is available (more sanitizer is coming on Sunday), said Judson Naifeh.

“We’ve got everything else – toilet paper, hand soap, Lysol wipes – whatever you need.”

What will happen if there is a case?

Should someone locally be diagnosed, or an employee or student comes in contact with someone who has, Combs said he will get as much information as he can in order to make a decision about how to proceed.

“I’m all about communication but I’ll need the specifics – is it a parent, a teacher, a student … and which building? – before I can determine the best response for everyone.”

How much information will be available to the public is the question, though, after state officials announced Monday they would no longer announce the county when new cases are confirmed. The region in which the patient is located will be the only information released by the state.

The Leader will not be able to report a case is in Tipton County unless it is confirmed by authorities or the patient.

Need more information?

Coronavirus is dominating the news cycle lately, but sometimes it’s hard to cut through the news about where cases have been confirmed, which politician has been exposed to a patient and the government response and figure out what the disease is and how it affects you.

Up to date information about the Coronavirus in the United States, including sections for symptoms and frequently asked questions, can be found through the Centers for Disease Control’s website. The University of Tennessee also has a resource guide available online.