Week in Corona: Rutherford County has 5 confirmed cases

Mar 21, 2020 at 11:35 am by Michelle Willard

Novel Coronavirus

The biggest thing that bothers me, other than a lack of leadership, is that the state seems to be hoarding information from the public.

Yesterday, I accused Bill Ketron of withholding information. Well he did. He refused to release testing-site locations and when he finally did, people rushed to get tested. This is emblematic of what happens during a panic.

But he isn't the one withholding information as to the extent of the infection across the state.

The Tennessee Department of Health is reporting that Tennessee only has 228 confirmed case and Rutherford County only has a single case. I've heard anecdotally from healthcare workers that this is a severe underreporting of the true picture in Rutherford County.

Do you think Nissan and State Farm would have shut down over a single case? I don't. 

This was confirmed when the Shelby County Health Department tweeted Friday afternoon that they have 30 confirmed cases while the state is reporting only four. 

It took the Tennessee Department of Health a full day to update its report. Rutherford County's confirmed cases was adjusted to five and Shelby County's to 30 late Saturday afternoon.

Screenshot taken at 10:35 p.m. March 20


Because some tests have to be sent to the CDC, I thought maybe the numbers from there could shed light on the issue. There again I found a different number. According to the CDC, Tennessee only has 154 confirmed cases. 

And in my poking around, I found that Rutherford County isn't listed on the state's list of counties with testing sites. If we don't have any test sites and patients have to travel out of county, what happens to people with low income or no access to reliable transportation? They could have no way to get confirmed and get the treatment they need. 

Screenshot taken at 11:34 a.m. March 21

Further, we can't "Flatten the Curve" if people think the virus isn't in their communities. This is the theory that if the public self-isolates for 15 days then we can mitigate the spread of COVID-19. By the data so far from China, Italy and Iran, the virus has an infection rate of around 2.5, which is twice as bad as the flu.

To make matters worse, infected individuals can shed the virus for up to two weeks before showing symptoms. By staying home, we can slow the spread and hopefully the healthcare system can keep up with demand. That would also mean fewer deaths related to the virus.

At this point, I don't know if the intent is nefarious or if it's gross incompetence.

Either way people are going to die from a false sense of security. 

COVID-19 Reported Cases in Tennessee

As of 3 p.m. Friday, March 20:


Confirmed cases


U.S. - March 21 (not updating over weekend) 15,219  201

March 20



March 19


Tennessee - March 21  371  1

March 20



March 19

 154  -

Rutherford County - March 21

 5 -

March 20



March 19

 1 -

There is at least one case in each state, according to the CDC. A majority of Tennessee's cases are still in Davidson (101) and Williamson (35) counties. 

More info

If you want more information about COVID-19, visit the Tennessee Department of Health's website to get the most up-to-date information. The Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line (1-877-857-2945) is available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (CT) daily.

And remember wash your hands often with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub) for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue. Clean and disinfect objects (e.g. cell phone, computer) and high-touch surfaces regularly.

Also keep your germs to yourself and stay at home when you are sick.

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