Coronavirus daily blog, March 9: Baptist patient improving

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 20, 2020 11:37 AM CT | Published: March 09, 2020 10:29 AM CT

Editor’s note: Due to the serious public health implications associated with COVID-19, The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed.

Baptist patient continues to improve

4:59 PM CT, March 9

The Memphis patient, who is still hospitalized at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, is making good progress, according to Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, infectious disease expert and a member of the care team.

“The hospital is completely safe. We are taking a great deal of steps to maintain the safety, and that person remains in negative pressure for airborne precautions and that simply means that the air stays in that room, is not recirculated out into the hallway,” he said.

The patient came to the emergency room. Hospital staff were aware of the situation and quickly set up an isolated area to separate the patient from the rest of the population.

“If you look at the World Health Organization guidelines, you have to be within three to six feet of someone for a few minutes to really efficiently transmit this infection,” Threlkeld said. “So, there’s really probably very little risk to someone a few chairs over in waiting room.”

Baptist is in the process of setting up screening stations to check temperatures and other vital signs before patients get to the waiting room, he said.

“I am sure that will become more important if there is local transmission. It’s important to point out now that we don’t have any proven local transmission (people catching the virus from each other),” Threlkeld said, noting that, too, could change at any time.

“We will be ramping up various strategies, both in where to put people, where they should access health care and where they will be screened on the front end,” he said.

Baptist employees caring for the patient are wearing protective gear, including goggles or face shields, gloves, respirator masks, hair coverings and disposable gowns.

“We’ve been preparing for this situation for weeks now as we have followed the situation as it has unfolded internationally,” Threlkeld said.

Baptist, he said, has plenty of supplies and has had no difficulty accessing drugs and getting patients tested for COVID-19.

The hospital is operating as usual, including surgery schedules. People not feeling well are asked not to visit patients in the hospital. 


FedEx to employees: Take signs of illness seriously

5:04 PM CT, March 9

FedEx is telling employees to take signs of illness seriously and stay home if they’re not feeling well. Some employees report a higher incidence of being allowed to work from home, although a company statement didn’t address that.

The Memphis area’s largest private employer is “actively educating team members about COVID-19 and promoting recommended preventative actions related to hygiene, including frequent handwashing,” FedEx said Monday, March 9.

“We are closely monitoring guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health organizations, and taking recommended precautions in terms of pilot, team member and customer health and safety,” a spokeswoman said.

“We are also encouraging our team members to take any signs of illness seriously and seek medical attention as needed, and promoting guidance from leading public health organizations on how to keep the workplace clean,” she said.

FedEx’s policy on employees working from home tends to vary according to the supervisor’s preference. As the novel coronavirus has spread, one FedEx department has tried out letting employees work from home for a few days to test the impact on productivity, an employee said.


Seventy quarantined, all schools remain open

3:04 PM CT, March 9

More than 100 people in Shelby County and Mississippi had contact with the unidentified person diagnosed Sunday as the area’s first confirmed case of novel coronavirus and 70 of them have been quarantined, Shelby County Health Department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said Monday, March 9.

But Haushalter cautioned the quarantine measures don’t mean the virus is spreading, although word that one of those in quarantine is an employee of Shelby County Schools prompted SCS officials to call a press conference Monday afternoon to announce schools will remain open.

“Quarantine is a very old word we’ve used in public health for over a century,” Haushalter said Monday. “And it often times connotes and creates a lot of fear. But people who are quarantined pose absolutely no risk to the public, and that’s really important.”

She distinguished between quarantine and isolation.

The quarantine requirements confine someone to their home for 14 days during which they cannot leave and no one is allowed to enter.

“If they become sick at any point after having been in contact with a case, we know they can’t spread the disease to other people,” Haushalter said.

And if they become sick, their status moves to isolation, which involves treatment.

The notice to parents prompted some to check their children out of Treadwell Elementary and Middle School later in the school day.

But SCS superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said all schools in the system remain open.

“Closing schools is an extreme measure that can be disruptive for staff and families. Let me be clear -- at this time, there has been no decision to close schools,” Ray said. “A decision to close schools would not be taken lightly. … We know right now there is a great deal of concern about the unknown. This is uncharted territory. I want to assure you our team capable and developing a detailed response plan.”

Haushalter said there is no risk within local schools. 

“There is no community transmission,” she said. “We are currently focused on containment.”

She also reiterated that local health officials have had no problems getting enough tests for the virus.


Law firm hosting coronavirus webinar for businesses

4:06 PM CT, March 9

On Wednesday, March 11, Baker Donelson will host a free webinar: “Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Your Business Should Do Right Now.” It will include coronavirus medical facts (risks, prevention, exposure, treatment), perspective on the rights of employees and employees, business travel issues, cybersecurity control considerations in planning for a remote workforce, potential insurance claims and more.

Baker Donelson is also expanding its task force focused on providing counsel to clients so that they can prepare for and respond to coronavirus outbreak impacts.

”As the novel coronavirus has continued to spread around the globe, its impact on businesses has increased as well,” Baker Donelson global business team chair John M. Scannapiecosaid in a statement. “Everything from supply chains, contracts and employment issues to cybersecurity, novel insurance coverage matters, and financial disclosures will ultimately be affected. In expanding this task force, we have combined the unique, high-level experience that all of these professionals bring in order to offer our clients expert counsel on whatever issue they might face related to COVID-19.”

Scannapieco leads the task force. The team, which began monitoring coronavirus impacts on global supply chains and employees overseas in January, will bring together professionals in multiple Baker Donelson practice groups.


Banks take brunt of Wall Street sell-off

3:55 PM CT, March 9

On a day when breakers were tripped on Wall Street because of so much trading, mostly selling, Memphis companies did not escape the carnage and financial services companies were particularly hard hit.

Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. closed down nearly 20% on Monday to $10.12 a share. Intraday, the stock fell below $10 a share, its lowest level since First Horizon was beginning to pull out of the Great Recession in 2012.

Regions Bank, the second largest bank in the Memphis market based on deposits, closed down 19.4% to $10.47 a share.

FedEx Corp.’s stock was off 9.4% to $115.73 per share, a level the shipping giant has not seen since the summer of 2013. The stock has lost more than half of its value since July 2018.

Not every company saw red on Monday, though. Memphis-based auto parts retailer AutoZone rose 5.2% to close at $1,115.57, up $55 on the day. AutoZone’s stock can move contrary to the broader market, as consumers tend to think less about buying new vehicles during challenging economic times, holding onto aging vehicles that require more maintenance longer.

This is how other Memphis-based companies and banks with a large local presence fared on Monday:

Pinnacle Financial Partners shed nearly 20%, closing at $42.21

BancorpSouth closed down 13.9% to $21.15, a new 52-week low

Renasant Bank declined 10.5% to $24.16

Trustmark Bank lost 9.9% to close at $23.81

International Paper Co. was off nearly 10% to close at $32.26.

An exception to the banking carnage was SunTrust Banks Inc., which finished higher by 87 cents a share to close at $70.13. SunTrust is the third largest bank in Memphis based on deposits.


Zoo taking extra coronavirus precautions

3:29 PM CT, March 9

The Memphis Zoo is taking extra precautions because of the novel coronavirus. 

Communications specialist Amanda Moses said the zoo’s Operations, Food Services and Animal Care teams continue to disinfect all public areas and bathrooms. The zoo also has several hand sanitizing and hand washing stations throughout.


Frayser Community Schools taking coronavirus precautions

3:07 PM CT, March 9

In response to the novel coronavirus, principals at Frayser Community Schools will hold meetings with students Tuesday, March 10 about precautionary steps they can take to stay safe. 

FCS has also ordered additional cleaning supplies and will not only clean schools throughout the day, but do a thorough cleaning of schools after the day ends.

FCS has been in contact with the Shelby County Health Department and will take more precautionary measures as needed, said Erica Williams, director of FCS communications.

The charter school operator has also been in correspondence with faculty and staff to ensure they have the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control.

FCS operates Martin Luther King College Prep High School, Humes Middle School and Westside Middle School. The three schools have an enrollment about 1,100 students.

FCS officials will meet every morning in the near future to discuss the latest CDC and county health department updates on coronavirus, and will adjust its plans accordingly.


Treadwell parents react to employee quarantine

2:37 PM CT, March 9

Parlay Muhammad said he couldn’t get to Treadwell Middle School fast enough Monday after hearing an employee had been quarantined because of contact with someone with the coronavirus.

“I saw it on Facebook and got up here ASAP to pick up my nieces,” Muhammad said as he sat in front of the school on North Highland Street Monday afternoon. “This is scary.”

He said he isn’t sure if the two girls in the seventh and eighth grades will be back at the school this week.

Read more. 


Chalkbeat: Parents signing kids out of Treadwell elementary, middle

1:44 PM CT, March 9

Chalkbeat Tennessee reports that parents are signing their children out of Treadwell elementary and middle schools following Shelby County Schools’ announcement of a district employee being under a 14-day voluntary quarantine.

The employee’s quarantine is due to the individual coming in contact with the person who is Shelby County’s first diagnosed novel coronavirus case.

Treadwell Elementary is located at 3538 Given Ave.; Treadwell Middle is next door at 920 N. Highland St.

Read more.


Law enforcement discusses precautions for coronavirus at jail, staff

2:11 PM CT, March 9

Jails and prisons locally and across the country are on alert and taking precautions to prevent coronavirus from spreading among inmates and detainees.

The Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar has had no reports of COVID-19, but Shelby County Sheriff’s Office officials met Monday, March 9, with the Shelby County Health Department to discuss precautions.

Capt. Anthony Buckner, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the command staff met with Shelby County Health Department officials to discuss precautions. 

Buckner said the health department encouraged the Sheriff’s Office staff to do “self-care among our staff, and that includes wash your hands and respiratory hygiene. Nothing earth-shattering, just what we have been doing. They said continue to do that.”

Buckner said the health department indicated it is in conversation with Wellpath, the health care provider for county inmates, and that health department officials are giving Wellpath employees the latest recommendations to deal with the virus if there were an outbreak in the jail at 201 Poplar, Jail East or among juvenile detainees.

Lt. Karen Rudolph, a public information officer with the Memphis Police Department, said that department is reminding officers to practice the proper healthcare guidelines shared with them by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for law enforcement and emergency workers, including paramedics and firefighters.

“Officers will handle this situation the same way as they would if they came in contact with someone who has tuberculosis, HIV, etc.,” Rudolph said in an email. 

The CDC guidelines said the immediate health risk for law enforcement personnel performing their daily activities is “low” but if they do come in contact with someone with they virus, they should follow the guidelines.

“If information about potential for COVID-19 (coronavirus) has not been provided by the (dispatcher), EMS clinicians should exercise appropriate precautions when responding to any patient with signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection,” the guidelines read. “Initial assessment should begin from a distance of at least 6 feet from the patient, if possible. Patient contact should be minimized to the extent possible until a face mask is on the patient.”

Tennessee Department of Corrections spokesman Tylee Tracer said TDOC has been working with Tennessee Emergency Management and the Tennessee Department of Health to address the flu and coronavirus health concerns, and TDOC is also following the CDC guidelines and state health department guidelines.

“People with fever, cough, sore throat or other flu-like symptoms are not permitted to visit. People who have traveled to high-risk area for COVID-19 or had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 are not permitted to visit,” the Tennessee Department of Health guidelines read.

In New York City, the Associated Press reported that a federal judge ordered inmates at a federal jail to be screened for fevers. If they have a high fever, they should not appear in court.

Kevin Phipps, the public information officer for Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Kuhn, said the department is following the county’s guidelines but said the office will soon come up with its own set of guidelines. 

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft said because inmates are already living in the same facility where the courthouse is located, there have been no postponements of routine courthouse appearances for inmates like in other parts of the country. 

“I am more worried about our jury assembly room each week and the 12 jurors who have to be together all week in a jury trial,” Craft said.

He said the 10 criminal court judges are headed to their week-long spring judicial conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Tuesday, March 10 and were told to take precautions. 

“We were told not to shake hands and wash them frequently, as that city was the first one in Tennessee to have Covid-19 positive patients,” Craft said.


As cases spread, TN Democrats push healthcare for uninsured

3:11 PM CT, March 9

House Minority Leader Karen Camper said Monday, March 9, she hopes to meet with Gov. Bill Lee to urge his support for expansion of healthcare coverage to uninsured Tennesseans as coronavirus cases spread.

<strong>Karen Camper</strong>

Karen Camper

“This is a time for us, our colleagues across the aisle to join us, really, the governor to join us today, to say Tennessee cares. Tennessee cares about the health of our citizens. Tennessee cares about a … world-class health system,” said Camper, a Memphis Democrat. “We have got to come together on this issue, and I think the time is right now.”

Camper renewed Democrats’ call for expanding Medicaid to some 300,000 uninsured and underinsured people who might continue going to work and declining to go to the hospital or the doctor because they don’t have insurance coverage. Republicans have declined to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, even though two Republicans are sponsoring legislation to widen coverage this year. It has not been heard in committee.

A bill filed Monday — after the Legislature’s deadline — authorized the governor to start negotiating immediately with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and President Donald Trump for waivers to provide primary to all uninsured residents in Tennessee “relative to the prevention and treatment of coronavirus.

Four cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the state, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, including one in Shelby County, one in Nashville and one in Williamson County.


Trustee asks residents to pay their taxes online

1:30 PM CT, March 9

The Shelby County Trustee’s office has asked residents to help keep its employees healthy by making their county tax payments online at or via the payit901 smartphone app.

If that is not possible, the office asks residents to mail in their payments (with money orders instead of cash).

Any receipts requested can be issued by mail. 


TSSAA tournaments are on — for now

1:18 PM CT, March 9

While there have been several confirmed cases of coronavirus in Middle Tennessee, the TSSAA has no plans to cancel this weekend’s state basketball tournaments. Matthew Gillespie, the TSSAA assistant executive director, said the organization has maintained contact with experts regarding the growing concern, and the situation could change if conditions worsen. But for now, there the tournaments will go on as scheduled.


AAC commissioner says precautions in place for tournament

1:10 PM CT, March 9

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said Monday the conference has taken precautions for this week’s men’s basketball tournament and other conference championships.

Aresco said the tournament “is a go.”

“We’re also taking reasonable health-related precautions at our championships,” Aresco said in his conference call.

The Memphis Tigers begin play on Thursday against East Carolina.

“Providing additional alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations at team and fan areas for example. There are cleaning protocols at various sites. We’re not medical people. We’re not doctors. We’re taking our advice from the CDC and from local health authorities,” he said. 

“We’re placing CDC (Centers for Disease Control) information regarding coronavirus in the team and fan areas at our championship arenas and sites.”

Aresco said they will monitor the players, traveling parties and team staff members and if anyone “exhibits coronavirus or flu-like symptoms” officials will have them seek medical attention and “limit exposure to others.”

He added: ““We’re hoping we don’t have any disruption, but, if we do, we’ll have alternate plans.”


NBA owners, league to talk Wednesday

1:02 PM CT, March 9

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the NBA will have a meeting with team owners on Wednesday, March 11, to discuss next steps for dealing with coronavirus.


What to do if you feel sick

12:57 PM CT, March 9

If you are feeling sick or suspect you were exposed to the coronavirus, your first step should be to call the Shelby County Health Department at (901) 222-9000.

If you have traveled to an area where there is an outbreak or have been exposed to someone who is a confirmed case, a health department worker will come to your house and will likely ask you to isolate yourself at home.

If you are going to your doctor’s office, please let the office know before you come in that you feel your case may be serious. It is definitely serious if you have recently traveled to an affected area or have been in close contact – even for 10 minutes – with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.

Symptoms appear in a broad range between 2 and 10 days after exposure and infection. If someone has not developed symptoms in 14 days from alleged exposure, it is deemed unlikely that they were infected.

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Strickland: No reason not to dine out

12:45 PM CT, March 9

Memphis Black Restaurant Week began Sunday across the city featuring a dozen restaurants owned by African-Americans featured in this fifth year of the event. Cynthia Daniels, the founder of the event, says the corona virus was a part of the preparations.

“We had a special meeting about that and talked about cleanliness, making sure we’re washing hands, making sure everybody sick stays home. We’ve covered all bases,” she said.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and other leaders from City Hall observed the week Monday by having lunch at Flava House Lounge, a restaurant that opened just this past December on the Main Street Mall. Strickland said the virus shouldn’t discourage people from eating out.

“I don’t see that in the near future for sure. But I have watched the news and seen where parts of Italy have been shut down, that’s a health department call,” he said. “I have learned through this process the health department has the legal ability to shut things down. But I don’t think we are even close to that now and hopefully never get there.”

As for city facilities, Strickland says they are getting a daily detailed cleaning.

“On a daily basis we’re cleaning all common areas, the buttons on elevators, the common areas where people put their hands. We want to do the best we can so that when people come to our libraries, come to our community centers they feel safe. We’ve also got to keep our employees safe who are there every single day and interact with the public.”

As for travel, Strickland said he intends to be in Fort Worth as the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team opens tournament play this week.


GMSD parents, students under cautionary self-quarantine

12:40 PM CT, March 9

Germantown Municipal School District is aware of parents who have traveled internationally and had potential exposure to coronavirus, the district said in an email. The parents are voluntarily self-quarantining themselves, but do not have symptoms and have not tested positive.

“The parents, out of an abundance of caution, will also be keeping their children self-quarantined to avoid any potential exposure to Germantown Municipal School District students,” read the statement.

The district said it is working with the Shelby County Health Department and has taken extra cleaning measures. The district also has a crisis plan response committee that is closely monitoring the virus. 


Memphis Islamic Center advises Muslims on coronavirus

12:31 PM CT, March 9

The Memphis Islamic Center is advising local Muslims who have any symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough, runny nose and body aches to not visit the mosque or other public places.

If they are free from those symptoms upon arriving at the mosque, they are encouraged to only greet fellow Muslims verbally and not shake hands or hug. They also encourage members to use hand sanitizer after entering the building, and advise other mosques to have hand sanitizer available for use at all entrances.


Your noon national novel coronavirus update

12:19 PM CT, March 9

It’s around noon in Memphis. Below is what some national outlets are reporting about the coronavirus. 

  • From the New York Times: The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Rick Cotton, has the coronavirus.
  • From the Wall Street Journal: Airlines across the globe are seeing dramatic reductions in bookings. In response they are cutting flights, grounding planes and enacting hiring freezes.
  • From the Washington Post: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sent warnings to companies the agencies say have marketed illegal, unapproved drugs or made deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims in regards to products claiming to treat, prevent or cure the coronavirus. 


Grizzlies adding hand-sanitizer stations, upgrading cleaning products

12:05 PM CT, March 9

The Memphis Grizzlies organization has released a statement regarding steps it is taking to combat the spread of the coronavirus: 

“We are paying close attention to developments regarding the coronavirus and have taken/are taking steps to educate employees and fans to focus on preventative measures, as the health and safety of our employees, players and fans are of the utmost importance. We are cleaning high traffic areas more frequently, increasing the number of hand-sanitizer stations, upgrading our cleaning products, and posting prevention tips in our restrooms. We will continue to stay in close communication with city, county and state officials, as well as the NBA league office.”


Airport cleaning stepped up for spring break

11:56 AM CT, March 9

Memphis International Airport says it has increased cleaning and sanitation in high-contact areas, including arrival/departure gates, as it prepares for a spring break crowd Thursday through Sunday.

Airport restaurant vendors also are taking additional cleaning and sanitation steps as well, airport officials said Monday.

The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 33,600 people Thursday-Sunday (March 12-15) at Memphis International, a 4.5% increase from a year ago, based on airline ticketing data.


Gas prices headed lower

11:43 AM CT, March 9

The Tennessee gas price average has decreased by 5 cents this week amid concerns about the coronavirus and crude oil prices hitting a four-year low.

The average price is now $2.16, which is 13 cents less than one year ago, according to AAA-The Auto Club Group, which lists Tennessee as the 10th least expensive market in the nation.

Gas prices are being cut as the price of oil plummets amid concerns the coronavirus will stunt demand for the commodity globally. 

The average gas price nationally also is 5 cents per gallon cheaper since last week at $2.38.


Fourth case reported; Democrats pushing insurance for uninsured

11:31 AM CT, March 9

With concerns about coronavirus sweeping the state and nation and the number of cases increasing to four, House Democrats are backing legislation designed to increase health care coverage to uninsured Tennesseans.

Democrats are set to introduce the Coronavirus Public Protection of 2020 in a Monday press conference.

Sponsored by state Rep. John Mark Windle, a Livingston Democrat, House Bill 2915 authorizes the governor to start negotiating immediately with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and President Donald Trump for waivers to provide primary care to all uninsured residents in Tennessee “relative to the prevention and treatment of coronavirus.”

Four cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the state, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, including one in Shelby County, one in Nashville and one in Williamson County. The fourth case involved an adult woman from Middle Tennessee, according to the Health Department.

Health officials are encouraging people to take precautions, mainly by washing their hands, avoiding touching their faces and staying away from people with coughs and colds.

Gov. Bill Lee and Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the House and Senate, have opposed expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act since the law took effect in 2010. The Legislature declined to enact Insure Tennessee under former Gov. Bill Haslam, and Lee has refused to seek any form of expansion, though he is seeking a $7.9 billion block grant from the federal government to run much of TennCare.

Fear of the virus worldwide caused stock markets to plunge and gas prices to dip as people reacted to the spread of COVID-19 early Monday.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance issued guidance to health carriers about COVID-19 to help combat the virus.

“Gov. Lee has made preparedness and a swift response to the potential spread of coronavirus top priorities,” TDCI Commission Hodgen Mainda said Monday. “As part of our mission, we have requested Tennessee’s health carriers to assist in facilitating measures – including covering the cost of coronavirus testing – in order for our state to successfully fight the spread of this disease.”

Along with waiving the cost of coronavirus testing, the department has asked health carriers to provide timely, accurate information, expedite responses to consumer questions, use telehealth where available and skip preauthorization requirements.

“Several insurance companies in Tennessee have already voluntarily adopted these policies, and we look forward to working with the remaining carriers in adopting this request,” Mainda said.


Stocks, oil prices plunge

11:17 AM CT, March 9

The potential impact of coronavirus on global economies and a steep sell-off in oil sent stocks plummeting Monday morning on Wall Street, triggering a brief, automatic halt in trading to let investors catch their breath.

The price of oil sank 20% after Russia refused to roll back production in response to falling prices and Saudi Arabia signaled that it will ramp up its output, according to an Associated Press report.

While low oil prices can turn into cheaper gasoline, energy companies are being hammered.

The S&P 500 plunged as much as 7.4% in the first few minutes of trading. Losses were so sharp that trading was temporarily halted. The circuit breaker tripped in the U.S. stock market is meant to slow things down and give investors a chance to breathe before trading more.

Stocks trimmed their losses following the halt, and the index was down 6%, as of 11:12 a.m. Eastern time.

Among Memphis companies, First Horizon National Corp. was down nearly 14% in morning trading, off 1.74 to $10.89 a share, its lowest level in seven years. FedEx Corp.’s stock was off 5.7% to $120.36 to a multi-year low as well.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1,619 points, or 6.2%, to 24,261 after briefly being down more than 2,000. The Nasdaq gave up 5.6%.

The S&P 500 is down 17% since setting a record last month.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note plunged to 0.54%, down sharply from 0.70% late Friday. Early last week, it had never been below 1%.

Short-term yields sank as traders placed increasing bets that the Federal Reserve will cut rates deeper to do what it can to help the economy. The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more on expectations of Fed action, fell to 0.33% from 0.46%.


BlueCross will cover COVID-19 testing costs

10:56 AM CT, March 9

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will waive all member co-pays and cost sharing on FDA-approved testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus.

“We are committed to helping slow the spread and impact of this new coronavirus,” said Dr. Andrea D. Willis, the company’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “If a BlueCross member needs to get tested, we don’t want them to worry about the cost.”

BlueCross is asking people with coronavirus symptoms to call their health provider before visiting an office or emergency room.


St. Jude has stopped work travel, postponing tours

10:51 AM CT, March 9

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has stopped work travel and is postponing tours of its facilities in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“Our goal is to ensure a safe place for our patients, their families and all employees,” the hospital said in a statement. “We appreciate our community’s support of St. Jude and everyone’s help keeping our patients safe.”


SCS employee placed on cautionary quarantine

10:31 AM CT, March 9

On Monday, March 9, 2020, Shelby County Schools announced that one of the district’s employees was under a 14-day cautionary quarantine.

In a statement, the district said it confirmed late Sunday that an employee assigned to Treadwell Elementary School and Treadwell Middle School had been placed on the cautionary quarantine after having had contact with the first patient in Shelby County who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. According to the district, the person had not shown any signs or symptoms of illness after the contact.

“The Shelby County Health Department has advised that the immediate risk to the general public in Shelby County is thought to be low, and there is no expected risk to school-age children at this time,” the district said in a statement.

The district said the quarantine was directed by the Shelby County Health Department out of abundance of caution and the information was shared with families and staff at both schools.


Coronavirus impact pending in NBA

10:53 AM CT, March 9

This past weekend was filled with reporting from the NBA league about things that could happen in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus, from suspending post-game locker-room media availability to the prospect of playing games without fans. 

Differences at FedExForum on Saturday night were subtle. Many noticed an increase in hand-sanitizer dispensers installed around the arena. Before the game, an NBA public-service announcement played in the arena that did not mention the coronavirus but did give tips – wash your hands and don’t touch your face, natch – to “stop the spread of germs.”

As the game tipped, there was national reporting that NBA team trainers and medical staff would participate in a conference call on Monday to discuss NBA procedures, but that seems more about internal procedures for teams and players. 

Will anything happen that will impact games for fans? Stay tuned. These protocols are being discussed at the league-office level and teams are awaiting direction on potential adjustments. 


First coronavirus case confirmed in Memphis

10:21 AM CT, March 9

Shelby County Health Department announced the first case of coronavirus in the area Sunday morning, March 8.

The patient is being cared for at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis on Walnut Grove. Officials did not give an age or gender, but noted the person is in a negative-pressure room and is in good condition, according to Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, an infectious disease physician at Baptist caring for the patient.

A new case was also announced in Nashville Sunday, in Davidson County, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to three. The third case was in Williamson County, also in the Nashville area. 

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