By Lonnie Wilkey and Chris Turner
Baptist and Reflector
Gov. Bill Lee held a called president conference on March 9 at the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville, announcing the first confirmed case of the coronavirus. The patient is described as a 44-year-old man in Williamson County. He currently is quarantined in his home, according to news reports from News Channel 5 in Nashville.
According to the state health department the man had mild symptoms and sought care when he became worse. Health officials said they’re working on compiling a list of people that have come in contact with the family.
According to News Channel 5, 10 people have been tested for the virus in Tennessee, one of five states that has begun testing for the virus.
Gov. Lee said it has “been a very difficult week in our state in a lot of ways,” apparently referencing the tornadoes that swept through Middle Tennessee and the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“Preparedness is how we deal with situations like this,” the governor said, adding that the risk is very low.
The Baptist and Reflector published an article in the March 4 issue entitled “Should we fear the coronavirus” (https://baptistandreflector.org/should-we-fear-the-coronavirus/)? Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that “right now the risk to the American public is low” and he urged Americans not to panic.
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The article included a series of practical tips for preventing the spread of the virus. The most basic is to frequently wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. But be vigilant. The symptoms to look out for, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as many as 98% of COVID-19 patients have a fever, between 76% and 82% have a dry cough, and 11% to 44% report exhaustion and fatigue.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, noted that the coronavirus “is obviously a serious situation and we should monitor what’s going on.”
Davis encouraged churches to keep doing things they do anyway such as wiping down children’s areas and other highly trafficked locations in our churches with disinfecting wipes, washing our hands, making hand sanitizer available and staying home when we are sick so we don’t infect others.”
Davis assured Tennessee Baptists “that we are following this issue on a daily basis and how it might impact our churches. As warranted, the TBMB will pass on practical responses in helping churches deal with a crisis. Right now we know that children are not as affected as older adults. I do not think this is something at this point this is something over which we should cancel church. Remaining calm, taking precautions and staying informed are much better courses of action than panicking. ”
The TBMB announced Feb 26 the formation of a coronavirus task force comprised of staff members Chris Turner, Wes Jones, Beth Moore, Kevin Perrigan, Pat Poindexter, Mark LeMay, William Maxwell and Donna Blaydes. The purpose of the task group is to monitor the developing situation and keep pass information and resources on to Tennessee Baptists.
For more comprehensive information from the CDC regarding the coronavirus, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.