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Tennessee coronavirus cases jump to 52, according to state health dept.

Updated: Mar. 16, 2020 at 4:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There are now 52 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state of Tennessee, according to state health officials.

The Tennessee Department of Health released updated numbers Monday afternoon, which shows an increase of 13 cases since Sunday.

Davidson County has the most cases with 25 while Williamson County has 18. Shelby County still has two cases. The following counties each have one case: Campbell, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Rutherford, Sevier and Sullivan.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said last week they expect the number of cases to increase with expanded testing.

On Monday, Lee urged every school in the state to close its doors by Friday for the rest of the month. Hours later, he urged Tennesseans to step up and help those who are facing immediate hardships as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and resulting closures.

“We saw over the last several weeks how Tennesseans came together to help their neighbors when a tornado came," said Lee. "What’s about to happen across schools, across this state, is that schools will close, students who have no childcare will be returning home, parents who have jobs that will require them to be out of the home will be facing dilemmas and hardships for families will immediately take place when schools close. “

The governor urged churches to adopt schools and neighbors to consider helping neighbors with childcare.

Lee also said the state health department and private sector are working together to increase testing availability. He said there will be more than a dozen remote testing sites across six major metropolitan areas by the end of the week, allowing people to bypass hospitals and health clinics.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he expects that once testing is more easily accessible that the number of cases in Shelby County will increase.

“I do think that the numbers are higher than what’s being reported here and in Nashville, we know, because there aren’t enough tests to really test all the people we need to, in Tennessee and in this country," said Strickland. “So, we feel pretty strongly that the numbers will go up when the large batch of tests come, hopefully within the week.”

But I do think all of us, the Health Department, government, and the hospitals are all working really well together. We had a conversation this morning about how we best plan for potentially the worst case scenario, how do we try to avoid the worst case scenario, and then how do we implement drive through testing? So many cities are doing that, and I think we will work together to implement that so that when we do get the large batch of tests, we will have drive through testing in Memphis.”

Strickland said everyone should take the outbreak and advice from public health officials seriously but avoid panicking.

“I’m sure there are people out there who think folks are over exaggerating the significance, and then there’s probably people who thinking that we aren’t having gone far enough,” said Strickland. “You can’t make everyone happy. What we’ve tried to do is hire experts, an infectious disease specialist, to inform our decisions, follow the CDC guidelines and do the right thing. And I do think it’s serious. But I don’t think we need to panic. What we need to do is all play our part. People need to stay vigilant. It’s easy to take it for granted to wash your hands for 5 seconds and move on. Do it for a full 20 seconds. Use the hand sanitizer. Clean up areas that are commonly used where you put your hands at, on like this table here, don’t take it for granted – because we’re gonna have to do this for probably two or three months. This is a marathon. This is not a sprint."

Elsewhere in the Mid-South, Mississippi currently has 12 confirmed cases while Arkansas has 22.

For more coverage and resources on the coronavirus outbreak, visit www.wmcactionnews5.com/coronavirus.

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