Henry County Medical Center announced Saturday morning that the first known positive COVID-19 patient in Henry County had been confirmed.

The patient was tested on March 19 at HCMC and the results went to a lab company. While awaiting results, the patient was quarantined at home. The patient is still at home and is doing fine.

On Friday, the hospital had reported that it is currently treating a positive COVID-19 patient from another county at HCMC. The patient is serious, but was stable as of Sunday afternoon.

“We at HCMC are continuously updating processes and procedures as released by the Centers for Disease Control and state Health Department, with respect to COVID-19,” said Lisa Casteel, HCMC CEO. “We instituted outside testing where you can remain in your vehicle and we have prepared to receive you inside our facility should you need us. As this virus moves through our country, we encourage social distancing, hand hygiene and self-quarantine if necessary. Our prayers are over the entire community during this time.”

To date, HCMC has collected 76 test samples that have been sent to commercial and state labs for testing. This is only the test that HCMC has done with inpatients, through the emergency room, or through the drive-through located outside the emergency department. This does not include any tests collected at other facilities, provider offices or the health department, just those completed at HCMC.

The hospital indicated that people who believe they meet the criteria for the coronavirus, including having the symptoms, traveling outside the United States or in the domestic hot spots associated with COVID-19, or being in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, need to call their primary care provider to arrange for medical evaluation and testing.

If a patient goes to the ER at HCMC without a provider order for testing, they will be registered as an ER patient and be treated and charged as an ER patient, as well as masked and isolated. If they have an order for testing from their provider, they will be instructed to park in the ER parking lot and a clinical staff member will come out and do the testing through the hospital’s outpatient lab services.

GOVERNMENT APPROACH

Henry County government and City of Paris officials have been preparing for and expecting a positive case for weeks. Officials are coordinating with the state Department of Health and the health care community to make sure all residents of Henry County continue to protect their health.

“This threat continues to impact our community and with yesterday’s announcements, it is important to remain vigilant to coronavirus symptoms and call your health care provider as soon as possible,” said County Mayor Brent Greer.

“We all have to work together to stop the spread whenever possible. I applaud our local businesses who are following Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order  … issued on March 19. We realize all local businesses are facing challenges during this unprecedented event. It is our intent to continue to follow the executive orders of the governor while trying to limit the negative economic impact on our community as much as possible.”

The case total for Tennessee stood at 1,373 on Sunday morning, according to Ron Watkins, county emergency management director.

“The peak of spread may not be for several weeks. We will continue to closely monitor this evolving situation and will adapt our response as appropriate. We are in constant contact with Governor Lee, state Department of Health officials, Henry County Medical Center leadership, state emergency management, and local government officials to make the best decisions for our community,” Watkins said.

“Over the next several weeks, we will continue to suffer inconveniences. It is important to take this threat seriously and follow CDC-recommended guidelines to protect our health and the health of our families. Executive Order number 17 also orders Tennesseans to cease congregations of 10 persons or more. Citizens should continue the practice of social distancing, meaning to stay at least six feet away from each other in all public settings. We have an opportunity to limit the spread if we all will take this seriously. We can act now or risk the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Now is the time to act responsibly,” Watkins said.

If a patient is tested, they should be prepared to self-quarantine for up to 14 days, according to CDC guidelines. They will be notified within 4-8 days depending on where they are tested. In Tennessee, it is a class B misdemeanor to “willfully disregard or evade quarantine” or violate “any rule or regulation made in attempting to prevent the spread of any epidemic disease”.

Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew has created a Sheriffs Department Help Team. This team will provide support with medications, meals and other needed errands to persons who do not have other means for support for assistance. This will include those who are following self-quarantine guidelines. School resource officers will limit contact with persons as much as possible and persons are asked to call 644-8337 to leave a message for assistance and a call will be returned as soon as possible.

City of Paris and county essential services continue to operate normally and as safely as possible. People who have business to conduct should call ahead for instructions on how to best be served.

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