KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Knox County grew by one on Friday to 207 with active cases at 24.
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The total number of recovered cases rose to 179 from 173. Recovered cases refer to those who have been released from isolation after seven days from their onset of symptoms, plus 72 hours of being symptom-free. Recovered does not mean necessarily the person had to be hospitalized.
Active cases in Knox County were down to 24 Friday, down five from Thursday.
Of the 207 cases, 31 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness. This figure does not reflect the number of patients currently hospitalized in the county. Six cases currently require hospitalization.
Thursday marked the first time Knox County Health Department has included a “current hospitalizations” statistic. The number includes Knox County residents at any hospital.
The number of deaths in Knox County from coronavirus remains at four.
The Knox County Health Department updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. on covid.knoxcountytn.gov.
The Health Department will have a free COVID-19 testing event at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking facility.
New data released
The Knox County Health Department offered a new data set and some clarification to its numbers during the Friday briefing held by Charity Menefee.
Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness for the KCHD, said the number of cases grew by one from Thursday to 207 but “a few” cases were transferred in and out of the Health Department’s jurisdiction.
The department also offered for the first time COVID-19 cases resulting in hospitalizations and deaths based on race in Knox County.
The data shows an elevated number of cases per 10,000 and hospitalization rate for African-Americans and Hispanics in Knox County. However, Menefee was quick to point out that with such a small data set, conclusions should not be drawn from the data by the public.
“That said, there is a long history of inequity seen in virtually every other illness, whether it is cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and so on,” Menefee added. “Your ZIP code, your income, your education or race shouldn’t affect your health, but we know it does.”
Menefee said the data is heartbreaking but not surprising and reflected the ongoing need to ensure equal opportunity to be healthy for everyone across the nation and locally.
Phone scam warning
A warning was also issued for a scam impersonating the Health Department. Menefee said calls are showing up on phones as the Knox County Health Department, something the department does not do.
“If you have any concerns that the person on the other end of the phone line is not the person they say they are, please hang up and call our public information line,” she said.Charity Menefee, Knox County Health Dept. Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease and Emergency Preparedness
The public information line for KCHD is 865-215-5555.
Hospitals are safe
Menefee was asked about the number of patients being lower and safety at Knox County hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. She said hospitals are safe places to go and if people are having a health emergency, they should not hesitate to seek medical attention.
“They have plans and protective measures in place to help protect their staff and patients that are coming in,” Menefee said. “We don’t want people who need hospital care to avoid going to the hospital.”
She also said hospitals will make their own decisions on when to start allowing for visitors and set guidelines on visits.
Personal health decisions
With Gov. Bill Lee announcing his reopening plan for 89 of the 95 Tennessee counties on Friday, Menefee reiterated that it is up to the public to decide what is ultimately right for themselves and their families.
When asked about dining in restaurants with those outside your household or shopping, Menefee said those who are at high-risk for complications from the coronavirus should continue to stay at home but everyone should continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines while in public.
“All of the social distancing things to keep you safe is going to be the most important thing at this time,” she said.
She also said churches and other religious communities should continue to use their innovative ways of practicing social distancing, like online and drive-in services, to gather for services.
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