NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the first confirmed positive test result for a case of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in the state at a news conference on Thursday morning.

The patient is a 44-year-old male from Williamson County and is a parent of a student at Battle Ground Academy. The man had recently traveled out-of-state. The patient has a mild illness and is isolated at home.

On Tuesday morning, Williamson County Medical Center received a call from the state about the referral of an individual to be tested for the novel coronavirus. 

To prepare of the patient's arrival, a staff member wore CDC-approved personal protection equipment and met the paitent outside the center to collect sampling needed for the test. The test was then submitted to the state laboratory. The patient never entered or was ever a patient at Williamson County Medical Center. 

In response to the first coronavirus diagnosis in Tennessee, the medical center has instituted a limited visitor approach, allowing only necessary personnel and caregivers inside the hospital. Visits for patients are being discouraged at this time. 

State Public Health Laboratory tested the individual and has submitted results to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

“We are working closely with local health care partners to identify contacts and contain spread of this disease in our communities,” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said at a news conference on Thursday. “We’ve been anticipating identification of COVID-19 cases in Tennessee. At this time, the overall risk to the general public remains low. We are continuing to work with the CDC and other agencies to provide guidance to Tennesseans to protect their health.”

The Department of Health said the patient traveled on a nonstop, round-trip flight between Boston and Nashville International Airport. The patient was asymptomatic while traveling.

TDH will announce testing results of household contacts of the COVID-19 patient as well as any additional positive results.

Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have mild respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. A smaller number of patients have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. Coronavirus is not currently widespread in the United States, so no additional precautions are recommended for the general public to take beyond normal practices to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Stay away from people who are sick

The Department of Health has tested eight individuals for coronavirus, including the presumptive case announced on Thursday. Two additional tests remain in progress. The State Public Health Laboratory has the ability to test 85 additional individuals at this time. The CDC is providing overflow testing if needed as states build additional capacity. TDH is prioritizing testing for those who had contact with the infected individual.

A joint statement was issued by the Williamson County legislative members:

“We’ve been made aware that the first case of Coronavirus has been confirmed in Tennessee, and unfortunately that case is in our community. We’re working with the administration, health department officials, state agencies, and health providers in Williamson County and across the state to make sure we’re taking every necessary precaution to keep the public safe. This patient and his immediate family have been quarantined at home. It’s our understanding he is exhibiting mild symptoms at this time. We strongly encourage the public to stay vigilant in following the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the Tennessee Department of Health. We appreciate the public’s cooperation and will provide more information as it becomes available.” - Joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and Reps. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, Sam Whitson, R-Franklin.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN, issued a statement concerning the positive coronavirus test. Alexander is chairman of the Senate health committee:

“The United States is among the countries that are best prepared to keep Tennesseans – and all Americans – safe from the coronavirus and to prepare for additional cases. Today, the Senate will be voting on nearly $8 billion in funding, including $950 million for state and local governments. Those dollars, along with screening and travel restrictions on people coming from China and other affected places, and a speed up in making diagnostic kits available to detect coronavirus are all a part of that effort. The Trump Administration is using the resources and tools that Congress has provided to respond to the coronavirus. I will work with Governor Lee to ensure the federal government is doing everything we can to assist Tennesseans.”

The Department of Health has launched a Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line in partnership with the Tennessee Poison Center. The hotline number is 877-857-2945 and will be available from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Central daily.

People with concerns about their health should contact their health care providers. The Department of Health has additional information available on its website. The CDC has updated information and guidance available online.


WSMV Digital Content Producer

A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to and follow him on Twiiter @EthanIllers_TV!

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