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TN Governor Bill Lee visits Memphis amid COVID-19 outbreak

TN cases now more than 1200; more than 1/6 of those in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friday afternoon, as the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Tennessee crossed 1200, Governor Bill Lee came to Memphis to meet with Shelby County elected and health leaders and provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Gov. Lee told Local 24 News a statewide Safer at Home order could still be on the table - a demand already made by thousands of Tennesseans.

"This is a very serious threat that we face,” Gov. Lee said.

The governor Friday afternoon offered a message of caution and optimism as the Volunteer State and Memphis area deal with a rise in new Coronavirus cases, day after day.

"We will get through this crisis, but we will only do so if Tennesseans take personal, individual responsibility,” Gov. Lee said.

Of the more than 1200 cases in the state Friday, more than 1/6 of those in Shelby County alone.

Gov. Lee said Coronavirus testing is expanding and labs are now required to report the total number of samples, positive or negative.

"To the degree that we can aggressively test in Tennessee, we can more effectively flatten the curve,” Gov. Lee said.

The state’s health commissioner had a message for young people, as those 40 or younger are testing positive for the Coronavirus at the highest rate to date.

"If you think I might get through this and it won't impact me as badly, it can affect you and it can affect others,” Dr. Lisa Piercey, the Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner said.

Gov. Lee said if cases continue to rise, he’s open to ordering a statewide Safer at Home order, which more than 25,000 Tennesseans - including doctors - want him to do – according to a new online petition. Right now, Gov. Lee is leaving that decision to mayors in Tennessee’s most populated counties.

"Nothing is off the table, things change daily. Three weeks ago, we had no idea of the impact that it could bring,” Gov. Lee said.

Gov. Lee added Friday afternoon the head of the state’s Grocers Association told him that Tennessee’s food supply is still stable and secure.

The governor said legislation passed by Congress Friday will also give more unemployment money to Tennessee, with new claims jumping from 2500 two weeks ago to nearly 37,000 last week.

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Coronavirus in Context: 

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80-percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Lower your risk

  • 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.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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