The Tennessee Department of Health east regional office has launched an informational line for residents and health care providers to call with questions or concerns about COVID-19.
The line, which is answered by state department of health employees and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, began taking calls March 19.
“The wonderful thing about that line, those folks will be able to answer your questions and answer them accurately — I mean factual information,” Teresa Harrill, Loudon County Health Department director, said.
As of Monday, the Tennessee Health Department reported 615 confirmed cases of the virus in the state. Only one has been confirmed in Loudon County.
Harrill found getting facts critical to dispel false information.
“It’s very important because we are seeing a lot of people panic because of rumors, a lot of myths that have been going around,” she said. “The main thing is local folks can look at the (Centers for Disease Control) website or the tennessee.gov website. Now they can call this line at the regional health office, answer questions about how it’s transmitted, contact and all that. It’s just a unique opportunity to get the correct information.”
The information line is 865-549-5343 and was created after the state’s TDH public information line in Nashville was hit hard with call volume.
“We go through the triage with them and answer their questions and then if they need testing or something like that we’re able to refer them for testing,” Corie Gouge, state health department assistant planning coordinator, said. “... People are calling in with symptoms and then just general questions about coronavirus. ... We try and answer and help anyway we can. We encourage everybody to give us a call and we’ll be happy to help any way we can.”
Calls will be answered 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Gouge said calls at different times will be rolled to the Nashville line.
Recommended precautions include washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Stay at home if sick. Stay away from sick people. Flu shots are also available for free at the health department.
Avoid crowds as much as possible and non-essential travel. If possible, stay home.
“Clean and disinfect your cellphone, your computer or anything you touch often,” Gouge said. “... Obviously, continue to do social distancing as well.”