The Covid-19 virus, also referred to as the coronavirus, has begun to infect the United States in record speed. Places like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle have the most confirmed cases and have issued shelter in place orders for the states where these cities dwell. Tennessee seems to have fared better than most of the country with only 615 confirmed cases so far (March 23) across the state. However, the lack of testing kits available to the nation in general is affecting the numbers and local doctors are recommending that we take the spread seriously.
As of the time of this writing there are no confirmed cases of corona virus in Coffee County. Whether that is the case or due to the lack of data due to having a shortage of test kits is debatable, but medical professionals are certain that there are cases in Coffee County. This is due to the massive amount of traffic that moves through the county through the interstate, so a person may move into the county and pump some gas, or stop into Walmart and cough spreading it to a population that was more isolated. The spreading is even more complex because carriers can be asymptomatic, meaning they show no discernable symptoms common to the virus. They could have no fever, cough, or respiratory issues and still transmit the virus to another person.
Dr. Jay Trussler is a local physician and he has a stern warning for the county. “So, I’ve seen quite a few people post about if Covid-19 is in this county or that county or why doesn’t the state have the accurate numbers yet. I respectfully want to inform you all that the corona virus is, in fact, here. Yes. It is in Coffee County and Grundy and Franklin County. Grundy lost a fine man to this virus, but he had a home in another county as well, so his death was recorded in Davidson County. This virus doesn’t care about those imaginary lines on a map or which county your house is in. This virus has found a way to jump from an animal in Wuhan, China to humans, then cross an ocean and a whole lot of land to finally arrive in our small corner of Tennessee. The virus is more than eager to make its way into your home as well. I have talked to the Director of Communicable Disease for TN Department of Health for our region of Tennessee a few times today. I gave her the addresses that these positive cases live, but what’s more important is than the patient’s home address is where have those people have been since becoming infected. The answer: Grundy, Franklin, Rutherford, and Coffee County. These people were unfortunately not aware of their diagnosis at the time they traveled so it is not their fault. In fact, a spouse of one of the Covid-19 patients found out about the diagnosis after attending church this morning.” Trussler continues “The FDA thinks that the virus is so widespread that doctor’s offices have been given permission to re-use gloves due to lack of supply. These gloves will be cleaned thoroughly, but that should give you an idea of how serious this is.”
This pandemic has likely reached Coffee County even if the numbers haven’t officially shown it, according to Trussler. There are things people can do to limit the odds of exposure. Stay home when you can. Avoid crowds. Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face. If you have to cough, make sure to cover your mouth. This pandemic will eventually pass but only if we take steps to halt its advance.
Trussler serves as a member of the Coffee County Ambulance Authority and as county deputy medical examiner.