As the coronavirus outbreak has already infected more than 3,000 people in Tennessee, trying to get all the answers needed about this new disease has proven to be a moving target. The Post is working with the Centers for Disease Control, state health department, and local leaders to get the answers for you on COVID-19 itself and its symptoms, as well as the latest on the testing effort and what local government officials are doing to deal with the current situation and what lies ahead.
COVID-19 is a novel or new virus which originated in Wuhan, China last year that spreads through sneezes and coughs and can live on surfaces for up to several days, according to the CDC. While fever, cough, and difficulty breathing are thought to be the most common symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC announced during the first week of April that not all people who are infected show symptoms right away, and recommended that people wear cloth face masks in areas where social distancing is difficult, like a busy grocery store or pharmacy.
If you think you might have COVID-19, the Tennessee Health Department recommends you contact your primary care provider (PCP) before getting a test. If you don’t have a PCP, you can go to a walk-in clinic, said Olivia Spooner, Regional Assessment and Planning Coordinator, TDH Mid-Cumberland Regional Office. Spooner said test results typically take 2 – 4 days or longer, depending on demand.
The TDH website has a list of four testing locations in Cheatham County, including a drive-through at the health department:
Cheatham County Health Dept., 162 John Mayfield Dr., Suite 200 Ashland City, Tenn.
Family Health Center of Ashland City, 342 Frey St., Ashland City, Tenn.
NorthCrest Quick Care, 2536 Highway 49, Suite 110, Pleasant View, Tenn.
Regents Medical Center, 254 Ren Mar Drive, Suite 100, Pleasant View, Tenn.
The CDC has recommended that people wash their hands regularly, stay at least six feet apart, and avoid gathering in groups of ten or more. With those recommendations in place, Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) issued an executive order on April 2 requiring all state residents to stay at home unless taking part in essential activities, like getting groceries, going to the doctor, or taking care of sick family members.
Local leaders have been working closely with the Governor’s Office, state legislators, as well as the state department of health in how to address the coronavirus and keep government going. Many city and county employees are working from home while essential workers remain on duty with protective gear, according to leaders in northern Cheatham. County and city buildings and some county-owned and city-owned vehicles have been sprayed with hospital-grade disinfectant from Nashville-based Biopure, according to the company’s website.
County buildings remain closed to the public through April 17, but residents can still conduct business via email and telephone.
Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver said he is also in constant contact via conference calls with Emergency Management Agency Director Edwin Hogan, who is connected with the state EMA, as well as fire departments in the cities, volunteer fire departments, and EMS on how to address the outbreak here.
“We’re making sure we have manpower in place and that we’re coordinating with our local hospital and nursing homes,” he said.
When asked about looking ahead at the possible need from Nashville for facilities in Cheatham, McCarver said that vacant retail spaces and schools could be converted into medical facilities if necessary.
Ashland City Mayor Steve Allen said police, firefighters, and water/sewer personnel remain on their regularly-scheduled work shifts to provide essential services to citizens.
“Until we get over this health situation, all of our city employees are pulling together and doing the best possible to keep the city going and they are so much appreciated,” Allen said.
The Town of Pleasant View has also been working closely with state and federal lawmakers to adjust to the “fluid situation” brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, said Mayor Perry Keenan. Pleasant View leaders issued a disaster declaration preemptively on April 3, according to Keenan, in order to help secure any federal funds that might become available to assist local businesses that have suffered due to the coronavirus.
Ashland City followed suit and announced their state of emergency declaration on April 5.