Belmont cautions community about coronavirus as first case hits Tennessee
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Belmont cautions community about coronavirus as first case hits Tennessee

After the first case of coronavirus was discovered in Middle Tennessee, Belmont University emailed students faculty and staff additional information to stay safe and healthy as Spring Break approaches.  

Though no cases have been identified on Belmont’s campus, the Office of Communications said: “We are strongly discouraging personal travel to countries recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Level 2 or 3. Currently, Japan is listed as a Level 2 country, while Level 3 countries include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, but this is a rapidly changing situation.”

The first case of coronavirus to reach Tennessee was detected in Williamson County, the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed Thursday.

In an announcement made during a press conference broadcast live on local media Thursday morning, Gov. Bill Lee gave an update about the spread of the illness and said that recent preparedness efforts have put Tennessee in a position to respond effectively.

Tennessee Department of Health commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercy was also there to provide more specific details about the case, revealing that the patient in question was tested on Wednesday and that results have been submitted to the CDC for further confirmation. 

At the press conference, Piercy said that the overall risk to the general public remains low.

The coronavirus patient is a 44-year-old man who is a resident of Williamson County. He experienced mild symptoms after returning from out-of-state travel, though it is unknown at this time if he passed through Nashville International Airport. He is currently in isolation at home. 

As Belmont students prepare to leave campus for spring break, news of the virus spreading has many on alert. 

Avery Green, a freshman, still plans to fly home to Texas by way of Nashville International Airport this Friday, but said that after learning of the coronavirus patient’s travel history, she will take increased precautions at the airport. 

“I’m definitely planning to be extra cautious, to avoid contact with things, and to bring hand sanitizer,” said Green. 

Belmont’s updated guidelines are available for individuals who plan to travel over the break. 

“Over Spring Break, you will need to stay aware of all CDC travel advisories and monitor your Belmont email for any updated information. Please keep in mind that Belmont is complying with the Tennessee Department of Health and CDC standards regarding transmission prevention,” said an email sent out to students Thursday afternoon.

The email explained that all Belmont-sponsored spring break programs and mission trips requiring international travel remain canceled, and Health Services said those returning from Level 2 and 3 countries should check the university website for appropriate protocols. 

Students at home and away were also reminded that the following health practices can help prevent the transmission of any illness:

  • 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.

For additional guidelines and information on what Belmont is doing related to coronavirus, visit belmont.edu/coronavirus.

Article written by Anna Jackson.

A clarification was added to this story Friday morning noting that the press conference was broadcast live on local media and that the Vision was not present.

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