As of Tuesday, one case of the coronavirus has been confirmed in Shelby County, bringing the total number of patients testing positive for the virus in Tennessee to six.
Shelby County Health Department officials said Monday that 70 individuals are being quarantined as a result of coming into contact with the Shelby County patient. That number could increase as the health department continues to assess the situation.
However, Alisa Haushalter, director of the health department said there is no immediate risk to the general public.
Still, several places around town are taking precautionary steps to prevent the spread of the virus:
Shelby County Schools
Superintendent Joris Ray said Monday that schools will remain open until the district is advised otherwise by health officials.
Ray also said that SCS has formed an internal task force and policy group to respond to the “rapidly changing scenarios.”
Additionally, SCS is suspending all school-sponsored international field trips for March and April.
The Memphis Zoo
In a Monday statement, the zoo said it has been monitoring the developments of the coronavirus.
“Our first priority is always the safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers, and we are taking extra measures to help keep everyone healthy. Our Operations, Food Services, and Animal Care teams continue to disinfect all public areas and restrooms. There are also several hand sanitizing and hand washing stations throughout the zoo.”
Colleges and Universities
University of Memphis president M. David Rudd told students and faculty Monday that all international students travel would be suspended for the rest of the semester. The university previously suspended travel to Level 3 countries — China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea.
The email to the campus community also noted that anyone already overseas will be self-quarantined before returning to campus. The university has not suspended domestic travel, but advises the campus to “exercise judgement when considering domestic travel.”
The University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center also suspended international travel indefinitely Monday and advised students and faculty to limit personal international travel and inform the Office of International Affairs if they do travel abroad.
It’s spring break at Rhodes College, but senior officials have a plan to meet daily this week to review the situation. A spokesperson for the college said Rhodes has a plan to do implement remote learning, “should it become necessary.”
The school has also suspended non-essential domestic and international travel and advised students that some on campus events of a certain size may be postponed or cancelled.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital officials said Monday that there are plans to halt work travel and hospital tours, as well as limit visitation:
“St. Jude is closely monitoring the global COVID-19 outbreak. Our goal is to ensure a safe place for our patients, their families and all employees. Because COVID-19 poses a health risk, we are limiting visitors to only invited guests and are postponing tours until further notice. We have also stopped work travel for the time being. We appreciate our community’s support of St. Jude and everyone’s help in keeping our patients safe.”
The Memphis International Airport is under normal operations and has not “experienced any significant impacts at this point,” according to an airport spokesperson.
The airport is taking precautionary steps though, including increasing janitorial staffing, in order to clean and sanitize high contact areas more frequently. While the airport’s restaurant and retail vendors are also taking additional cleaning steps. The airport has also added hand sanitizer dispensers at different locations throughout the airport.
The Memphis Area Transit Authority is working in close contact with the health department to monitor the spread of the virus, according to a MATA spokesperson.
MATA is cleaning its vehicles on a daily basis and is working to implement additional measures such as deep cleanings on buses and in transit centers, as well as more frequent cleanings of bus shelters.
Here are some precautions that the health department advises the general public to take:
• Washing hands with liquid soap and water, and rubbing for at least 20 seconds, or using alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available
• Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing
• Staying home if you are sick, especially with respiratory symptoms
• Regularly cleaning surfaces touched by many people
Check the health department's webpage dedicated to COVID-19 for more information.