SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - A Shelby County Schools employee and a faculty member at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are under 14-day quarantines after coming into contact with an individual now diagnosed with coronavirus.
They are two of the more than 100 people identified as “contacts” of the patient who is now being treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital. More than 70 of those contacts under quarantine in Tennessee and Mississippi.
Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said contacts are people who had face-to-face contact with the infected individual for more than 10 minutes without the proper personal protective equipment.
SCS said Monday morning their employee was assigned to Treadwell Elementary and Middle School. The person was placed on a 14-day cautionary quarantine, and a message was shared with families and staff at both schools.
SCS added in a statement, “Please note that quarantine helps keep the spread of any illness to a minimum and is not an immediate cause for alarm.”
Speaking at a news conference Monday afternoon, Haushalter said, “No one in the school system is at risk...There is no risk to the general public at the current time.”
Haushalter said Mid-Southerners should not be concerned about the quarantined individuals.
“People who are quarantined are required under the direction of the health department to stay at home for 14 days and not have visitors in and out for 14 days,” said Haushalter.
Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said the district is under no direction to close schools at this time.
UTHSC Chancellor Dr. Steve Schwab notified faculty, staff and students Monday of their faculty member who was under quarantine after coming into contact with the Memphis coronavirus patient. He said there are no additional steps being taken at this time, but there is a website dedicated to coronavirus updates.
Families will likely be traveling more since spring break is approaching. SCS said they are ensuring schools have accurate facts from the SCHD about how the virus is spread and the recommended steps for prevention.
Custodial operations with SCS are strengthening cleaning procedures to avoid coronavirus risk at all facilities and on buses.
- Custodial cleaning vendors clean, mop, vacuum, disinfect and sanitize the affected areas
- Custodial staff wipe down high touch areas daily (Ex: desktops, tabletops, doorknobs, handrails, handles, etc.)
- Special emphasis on SPED areas, Pre-K, and Early Childhood areas
- All staff, faculty, and students are encouraged to wash hands (primary) and use sanitizer (secondary)
- Schools are encouraged to post signage about washing hands to prevent the spreading of germs or diseases
The Shelby County Health Department would like members of the general public to take simple steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus:
- Washing hands with liquid soap and water, and rubbing for at least 20 seconds, or using alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
- Staying home if you are sick, especially with respiratory symptoms.
- Regularly cleaning surfaces touched by many people.
The CDC recommends that people 60 and up and individuals with underlying chronic health conditions should stay at home as much as possible and avoid crowds.
The CDC also states wearing face masks is not necessary for the general public and may not provide protection from the virus.
The Shelby County Health Department has launched a hotline number for questions about the novel coronavirus. That number is 901-692-7523. If you have any questions, you can call this number Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information on the health and safety of SCS, click here.