The Knox County Health Department has reported that a staff member on the campus of the University Of Tennessee has tested positive for the Coronavirus.
In an email sent out to students and workers at the university, it states that the worker was last seen on campus March 16th, while students were on spring break. In the email, Chancellor Donde Plowman states that Tennessee administrators “administrators are assisting health department staff in reaching out to anyone with whom the employee may have come into close contact.”
Because of privacy laws, the University will not identify this person publicly.
On Saturday, a few students were moving out of Stokely hall. One student was already taking graduation photos, as commencement has been cancelled for the school.
Some students have returned to campus, by appointment only, to pack up their belongings out of their dorm halls or residence. The campus has been a ghost town ever since it was stated that students would be taking their remaining classes online for the Spring semester.
Additional students will be returning this week to stay on campus, if they received an exemption to do so. This includes student athletes, though Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer urged them to stay home if they could.
Here is the full statement from Chancellor Plowman
Dear students, staff, and faculty:
“We received confirmation today from the Knox County Health Department that a staff member has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).”
“The employee was last on campus March 16 during spring break. UT Knoxville administrators are assisting health department staff in reaching out to anyone with whom the employee may have come into close contact.”
“Our staff has been extensively deep cleaning campus buildings and, using appropriate protective measures, will conduct a thorough cleaning of areas where the employee worked.The staff member is recovering at home in self-isolation. To protect individuals’ private health information, UT Knoxville will not identify faculty, staff, or students diagnosed with COVID-19.”
“Our thoughts right now are with this member of our campus community. I wish them a speedy recovery, and we are committed to providing them with care and support.”
“We remain focused on the health and well-being of our campus and our broader community. We will continue our aggressive measures for social distancing as we all do our part to limit community spread, flatten the curve of infections, and protect those who are particularly vulnerable to this disease.”
“As COVID-19 continues to spread, we expect to learn of more cases among members of the campus and local community. We are aware that some members of the campus community who suspect they may have COVID-19 are already self-isolating as they await further testing and results. We greatly appreciate that they are following CDC’s guidance.
Because of the expected increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, we may not publicly announce each individual positive test but will be transparent about situations of public concern and overall numbers of positive cases that health officials report to UT Knoxville. In all cases, we will continue to work closely with local and state health officials to notify anyone who may have had close contact with a member of the campus community diagnosed with COVID-19.”
“Everyone is urged to practice strict social distancing and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I have significantly changed my own behaviors and ask that you rethink yours. It is hard to think about a different way of being in a community, but we can do this.”
“For more information about our response to this disease, as well as access to resources supporting our online transition, visit utk.edu/coronavirus.”
“Take care of yourselves and one another.”
We will keep you updated on further statements from the school, as the campus deals with its first case.