Coronavirus test results negative for contacts of first Tennessee case

New positive case pending in Floyd County, Georgia

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

People who live in the same household as the man from Williamson County, Tennessee, with coronavirus have tested negative for the disease, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

On Thursday, state officials announced Tennessee's first confirmed case of the new coronavirus, called COVID-19, and said the 44-year-old man was isolated at home in the Nashville suburbs with mild illness. The patient has a recent history of out-of-state, domestic travel, state health officials said.

On Friday, the Tennessee Department of Health received negative test results for household contacts of the infected man, according to a news release from the state health department. The state's public health laboratory tested the individuals on Thursday for infection with COVID-19.

(MORE: Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to cover full cost of coronavirus testing)

As of Friday afternoon, there have been a total of 15 tests for COVID-19 conducted at the Tennessee State Laboratory, and two tests conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to department of health spokeswoman Elizabeth Hart. She said in an email that those two tests not conducted in Tennessee were sent directly to the CDC before the state's ability to test.

At this time, Tennessee has one confirmed case of COVID-19. All other tests returned negative, and Hart said she is unable to provide the number of test results that are pending.

State Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a cardiothoracic surgeon, said on Thursday: "I don't think it's time for anyone to panic, but we ought to take appropriate measures that would especially include maybe limited physical contact with people and definitely hand washing."

In neighboring Georgia, the state's Department of Public Health is awaiting confirmation on a positive test for COVID-19 in Floyd County, according to a news release issued Friday.

Georgia's first coronavirus cases were confirmed Monday in two people from the same Atlanta area household, including a man who recently traveled to Italy.

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, whose district is where Tennessee's coronavirus patient lives, told a group of reporters on Thursday that the man had recently attended a conference with international travelers and possibly was infected there.

The initial testing for the new Georgia patient in Floyd County was completed by the Georgia Public Health Laboratory on Thursday, and the results were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for verification.

Testing at most state laboratories, including Georgia, is just underway. Tennessee, on the other hand, was one of the first five states to conduct its own testing.

Due to previous flaws in the test components sent to state laboratories, the CDC now requires all presumptive positives for COVID-19 to be sent to the CDC for verification.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not confirmed initial test results for this patient. The Georgia Department of Public Health has requested expedited processing for an official determination," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said about the Floyd County patient in a news release. "To prevent the spread of incomplete or inaccurate information, we encourage Georgians to rely on guidance from the CDC, the [department of health] and my office. We will continue to provide regular updates to keep the public informed and ensure the health and safety of families across our state."

Georgia health officials said they are working to identify any contacts who may have been exposed to the person. People who were exposed will be contacted directly by a department of health epidemiologist and monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

The risk of COVID-19 to the general public remains low in both Tennessee and Georgia, health officials said. Residents should follow basic prevention measures for any respiratory illness, such as proper hand hygiene and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have mild respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. A smaller number of patients have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization.

If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department. Be sure to call before going to a doctor's office, emergency room or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

For information about coronavirus in Georgia and Tennessee, visit or

Information also is available through the Chattanooga-Hamilton County coronavirus hotline at 423-209-8383 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or the Tennessee Department of Health hotline at 877-857-2945 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central time daily.

Staff writer Andy Sher contributed to this story.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at or 423-757-6673.