April 1, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
For the first time, the Tennessee Department of Health began releasing the number of negative tests for COVID-19 on a county level Tuesday and is expected to start releasing county-level fatality data by the end of the week.
DeKalb County has 5 confirmed cases of the coronavirus but 63 people in DeKalb County have tested negative as of Wednesday, April 1. As of Tuesday the virus had infected at least 2,239 Tennesseans and killed 23.
Governor Bill Lee said the state has been cautious about releasing too much information because Tennessee is among a group of states that are legally bound by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as “HIPPA” and that some portions of the state’s health care operations are covered by the federal privacy law.
This week the Governor issued a two-week statewide “Safer at Home” order closing non-essential businesses and telling Tennesseans to stay home in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Although healthcare professionals and others have urged him to do so. Governor Lee has resisted declaring a statewide mandated “shelter in place” order because it infringes on personal liberties.
Could DeKalb County issue its own “shelter in place” order?
“No” according to County Mayor Tim Stribling.
“I reached out to the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) and to Mike Harrison, the Director of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors and they say I do not have the authority to issue a “shelter in place”, said County Mayor Stribling.
“We can encourage one (shelter in place) but we as county mayor or city mayor do not have the authority to issue a “shelter in place”. That authority has to come from the regional medical director. Not our local medical director of the health department but the regional or state medical director. If we issued a “shelter in place” as a county mayor or city mayor it is not enforceable because we do not have the power to do that. We can only encourage it,” said County Mayor Stribling.
Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Health Department is continuing to conduct COVID-19 drive thru assessments this week at the health department on Tiger Drive with help from members of the Tennessee National Guard.
Drive thru assessments are being held Monday through Friday each week from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. until further notice.
“If you have symptoms of COVID-19, we encourage you to stop by our health department for an assessment,” said County Mayor Stribling.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html which also has a link to the Center for Disease Control website.