News Flash


Posted on: February 11, 2020

Shelby County Health Department Is Monitoring Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Shelby County Health Department

SHELBY COUNTY, TN – The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) is working closely with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  to prepare for potential cases of the novel coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The CDC announced a 13th case of the virus in the United States. That patient had recently returned to the U.S. from Wuhan, China, and is currently under quarantine in California.

The virus is thought to be an animal virus that never previously infected humans. Coronaviruses are a class of viruses that can infect people and animals and cause a range of illness from mild to severe. Some coronaviruses cause the common cold, but novel strains pose a risk because the human immune system has not developed defenses to combat them.

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has infected more than 40,000 people, and killed more than 1,000 worldwide to date. Most cases have been in the Hubei province of China, which is now under strict travel restrictions. There have also been scattered cases in other countries, most amongst persons who traveled from the Hubei region before travel restrictions were put in place.

As of this time, the risk to the general public in the United States is thought to be low. That is because flights returning to the United States from China are being screened carefully. Some passengers deemed to be at-risk have been quarantined for two weeks to rule out infection.

There have been no reported cases of the novel coronavirus in Shelby County. The Health Department is working closely with the regional hospital systems and healthcare providers to be alert for any potential cases. Our epidemiologists are communicating with local infection control practitioners to make sure they have the information they need to assess the threat and protect hospital staff, patients, and the public in the event of a novel coronavirus case.

Our local risk assessment includes communications with FedEx, Memphis International Airport, and first responders to address their concerns as well as identify our local risk of coronavirus.

The SCHD receives weekly reports from emergency rooms and health care providers throughout Shelby County in order to be alerted to any unusual cluster of symptoms that could indicate an outbreak. That information is then used to develop local interventions to protect the public.

SCHD has plans in place to address an outbreak of any communicable disease or public health threat and get needed vaccinations or medications to the entire population of Shelby County, if needed.

The Shelby County Health Department stands ready to protect the people of Shelby County from novel coronavirus, should the need arise.

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