Hamilton County health officials plead for cooperation in identifying locals exposed to coronavirus

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Becky Barnes, administrator of health services for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, speaks during a press conference Thursday about the coronavirus as Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger stands behind her.

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The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is pleading for citizens to be responsible and cooperative in efforts to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that has found its way here.

After the head priest at a prominent downtown Chattanooga church was identified Friday as the first case of the novel coronavirus in Hamilton County, officials at the health department have been working to identify those who may have been exposed to the virus.

While the department is making calls and working with patients to identify and notify those at additional risk, individuals who know of their own risk factors are being asked to self-identify to the health department.

"We want to make it clear that the residents of Hamilton County are our partners," Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes wrote in an email.