Employees in the Greene County Register of Deeds Office are being tested for COVID-19 after the head of the department tested positive for the illness.
After the department head’s spouse received a positive coronavirus test result, the official was tested and began self-quarantining at home for at least 14 days, according to Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison.
On Thursday morning, Morrison learned that the department head’s test also returned with a positive for the virus. The department involved is the Register of Deeds office. Morrison declined to identify the department head by name.
The head of the department is Joy Rader Nunnally. Her spouse is a local attorney, Bill Nunnally. According to county officials, both were inside the Greene County Courthouse Annex after returning from traveling and the attorney was also in the Greene County Courthouse.
Public health officials have indicated that the risk of exposure from the two is low within both facilities.
Common areas in the Annex and the Register of Deeds Office have been thoroughly cleaned, and the incident is leading to some new precautionary measures for those entering both the Annex and the Greene County Courthouse.
Both the department head and spouse had traveled last week to Texas, a hotspot for the coronavirus. After beginning to experience some mild symptoms of illness for them both, the spouse was tested for the virus and the result was positive, leading to the department head to be tested, the mayor said.
As of Thursday, Greene County had 86 confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, an increase of one from the previous day. Of those, 28 are active. Fifty-eight people have recovered from the virus, while two have died.
After the positive test in their department, staff has cleaned and sanitized the Register of Deeds Office.
“Employees in other offices have cleaned and thoroughly sanitized common areas within the area or any area within the building that the department head may have visited during the 72-84 hours prior to testing,” Morrison said.
Public health officials have been consulted about the situation at both the Annex and the Courthouse by the county. The health officials have indicated that the risk of exposure of others to the virus was limited in both facilities, and the risk of infection to employees and members of the public were low as well, he said.
Some of the employees in the Register of Deeds Office have asked to be tested, and that office was closed Thursday to allow all the employees to do so, Morrison said.
County officials hope the office will reopen Monday if test results have been received, he said. If not, the Register of Deeds Office will remain closed until results are received.
Beginning next week, a facial covering is required for anyone entering the main courthouse, Morrison said.
A similar requirement for members of the public to wear masks when entering the Annex is expected to be implemented in the near future, Morrison said.
The county has ordered 11,000 masks to be able to provide them to members of the public who may not have one, he said. The mask requirement has not been put into place at the Annex until the county has an adequate supply of masks to provide, the mayor added.
Employees at the Greene County Clerk’s Office have been wearing facial masks since the Annex reopened to the public due to its high traffic volume.
The public and county employees are encouraged to wear facial coverings when they are having direct interaction with one another and social distancing is not possible, Morrison said.
Since a Public Health Emergency was declared in the county on March 20 due to the pandemic, Morrison has been encouraging people to take precautions, avoid travel if possible and stay at home if they are feeling ill.
“We must remain vigilant and take immediate action to mitigate the spread of this virus at the earliest sign of trouble,” he said. “Even the smallest of symptoms or sickness can be serious; maybe not for us, but for others, this virus can have serious consequences.”