Bradley County has confirmed its first case of COVID-19.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Spence and Bradley County Health Department Director Brittany Hopkins made the announcement today from the Church of God International Offices during a mid-morning press conference over Facebook Live.
Hopkins said health officials could not disclose any patient information aside from their age range, noting the person is in the 41-50 year-old age category. The person is not in serious condition and is being quarantined at home.
Mayor Davis confirmed he will be signing a state of emergency for the county, and Mayor Brooks said he will be joining Davis in that declaration for the city, as well. Officials were not specific in what that could mean for Bradley County and Cleveland, but Davis said it would “give Mayor Brooks some additional things to think about.”
Davis said that, in addition to the federal and statewide state of emergency already declared, “not much will change.”
Officials said they tried to gather as much information as possible prior to the press conference, but a lot of questions remained unanswered.
They could not share the number of testing sites, the number of test kits or the restrictions for COVID-19 testing in Bradley County. Hopkins referred to the state health department, stating that the information made publicly available on their website, tn.gov/health, is the same information that is being provided to their local office.
Davis and Brooks urged people to continue social distancing to “flatten the curve” or slow the spread of coronavirus cases.
However, officials said they knew a local case was only a matter of time.
“We knew as a community that it was just a matter of time before Bradley County would see its first positive test case of COVID-19,” Davis said, adding that “the practice of social distancing and compulsively washing your hands is having a positive effect on the virus, slowing the spread and flattening the curve. Please continue to do that.”
He also urged that “no more gathering places of any kind” should take place until the spread of the virus is under control.
Details will be released later today regarding the state of emergency and what it will mean for local businesses, officials said.
This week, cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee surpassed 150. Hamilton County reported its second and third cases, and one case was confirmed on the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga campus. On Thursday, Tennessee Department of Health released its daily COVID-19 report and announced over 154 cases had been confirmed in the state.
As of Friday morning, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine reported 13,924 active cases in the U.S. So far, 205 Americans have died and 121 have recovered from COVID-19.
At this point, many restaurants in Bradley County have already closed their dining rooms, some switching to delivery or drive-thru only to maintain social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Others have limited visitors to appointments only. The CDC recommends people avoid social gatherings to lessen community spread of the virus and protect those with compromised immune systems.
Public school systems have closed their campuses to students as well, only allowing essential administrators to operate from their offices in shifts to limit the number of people in the office at one time.
School systems are continuing to feed students through remote food sites and meal delivery using their bus routes. Universities and public schools are using programs like Zoom and Google Hangout to continue remote learning and virtual meetings during the extended closure.
By order of the U.S. Supreme Court, all municipal courts are to remain closed until March 31. The city of Cleveland is also limiting visitation and implementing a reservation system for all business at the Municipal Building. In addition to those closures, the city of Cleveland has closed all playgrounds at all city parks, but parks, walking trails and greenways will stay open.
In nearby Hamilton County, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order Thursday requiring all restaurants and bars within the city to end their dine-in service options to hamper community spread of COVID-19.
More details from this morning's press conference will be provided online at the Cleveland Daily Banner website, and continuing updates will be published in Sunday's print edition.
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