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Metro Public Health Department Responds to Latest CDC Coronavirus COVID-19 Update

2/26/2020

The Metro Public Health Department is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) newest guidance to plan for the likelihood of local transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Preparing for and responding to outbreaks of diseases is a routine part of Health Department’s activities. In close and continuing consultation with the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health, MPHD is taking an approach to COVID-19 similar to that used for other potential threats such as the H1N1 flu virus, SARS, Ebola and Zika, and the re-emergence of more endemic diseases such as hepatitis A and measles.

As part of the effort to prevent local transmission of COVID-19, we have been monitoring Davidson County residents who meet CDC’s guidelines, based primarily on symptoms and travel history, and/or close exposure to a known positive case. None identified locally have had the virus. There has been no local transmission in Nashville, or community-wide spread anywhere in the United States.

While our goal is to prevent local transmission, our obligation is to prepare for it. We are doing that. The Health Department is working with the Mayor’s Office and our local partners to ensure that we respond timely, appropriately and efficiently should the need arise. Mayor John Cooper has indicated any additional resources will be made available should the need arise.

We will provide timely, accurate and appropriate information to the public and to our partners on a regular basis. To date MPHD is communicating with the CDC and TDH; reviewing its local preparedness plan; implementing an Incident Command System within the department to ensure direct and frequent communication both internally and externally; monitoring travelers who recently have been to China, per CDC guidance; briefing the Mayor’s office and other Metro department heads; and providing local media updates and social media communications.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as pneumonia. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Currently, most of the confirmed cases of the illness in the United States are associated with people who recently traveled from China.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Even though the risk of COVID-19 is low in the U.S., the Health Department recommends everyone take routine precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as this one, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What follows are links to the CDC’s, TDH’s, and Metro Public Health Department’s websites with more information and guidance specific to 2019 Novel Coronavirus.