TENNESSEE (WATE) — As the novel coronavirus and plans for reopening of the economy ramp up in Tennessee, state and local officials are issuing new or updated responses and directives on a daily basis.
The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 originated in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization had declared the global coronavirus crisis to be a pandemic. Previously, WHO had declared the coronavirus as a public health emergency on Jan. 30. The first case of the novel coronavirus in the US had been reported on Jan. 20 in Washington state. COVID-19 has since spread throughout the world and into the United States.
Below is a timeline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impacts in Tennessee and the East Tennessee region.
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6/30: Lenoir City offers online and hybrid options
Lenoir City Schools announced that they plan to open on a regular schedule in August.
This while also offering online and hybrid learning options.
This through the new I-Learn Institute at Lenoir City Schools. The program is free for families concerned about COVID-19.
Students will still be able to participate in sports and attend special events such as prom if they choose this option.
To learn more or register, call 865-988-1924.
6/30: Knox Circuit Court Clerk asks county for $1.5M loan
Knox County Circuit Court Clerk Charlie Susano is requesting a $1.5 million loan that his office could draw down as needed to help offset lost revenue and cover expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Knox County Commission is expected to discuss the request on at its July meeting. If approved, between the circuit court clerk’s request and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office bonuses approved last week, the County Commission will have committed to allocating $3 million of the city’s reserve, also known as its rainy day fund, in just under four weeks.
6/30: KUB extends halt on service disconnections indefinitely
Knoxville Utilities Board will continue its moratorium of service disconnections indefinitely. The utility originally announced it would return to disconnecting services in August.
The change gives more leeway to those who cannot pay their bill right away as the coronavirus pandemic continues. KUB Customer Service Centers will reopen on Monday, July 6, with reduced occupancy.
6/30: State case count surpasses 43,000, 600 deaths
The Tennessee Department of Health says there are 43,509 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the state. The state’s death toll from the novel coronavirus is 604. Nearly 800,000 tests have been performed and 27,599 people have recovered from COVID-19.
6/29: Gov. Lee extends State of Emergency to Aug. 29, 2020
Gov. Bill Lee signed three new executive orders Monday aimed at combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Tennessee.
This, as the Tennessee Department of Health, reported 2,125 new and probable COVID-19 cases on Monday from two days’ worth of data: As of Monday, the total COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 42,297; including 592 deaths, 2,599 hospitalizations and 26,962 recovered.
Gov. Lee’s office announced that he had signed Executive Order No. 50 “to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to August 29, 2020. The order allows for the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures within the orders to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations.”
Gov. Lee’s office also saying he had signed Executive Order Nos. 51 and 52, “which extend provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, respectively, to August 29, 2020.”
6/29: Knoxville Mayor Kincannon mandates masks inside city-owned buildings
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon has signed a new executive order which mandates masks be worn inside all city-owned buildings.
A news release from the mayor’s office says that the order comes following a week of significant increases in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Knox County.
This order will go into effect Wednesday, July 1 at all city owned facilities:
- The Public Works Service Center
- The Safety Building
- The Convention Center
- The Sunsphere
- The World’s Fair Park Exhibition Center
- Civic Coliseum and Auditorium
- The Jacob Building
- The Muse
- Indoor spaces at Zoo Knoxville
- The Knoxville Station Transit Center
- The Administrative Building for Parks & Rec
Also, visitors coming to the City-County Building will also be asked to wear a mask for all city-related business.
6/29: Coronavirus cases up 19% in a week to 42,297
6/28: Tennessee not issuing coronavirus stats on Sunday due to ‘unplanned shutdown’
The Tennessee Department of Health said Sunday is was not releasing coronavirus statistics because of an “unplanned shutdown.”
In a Twitter, post the department said:
“TDH will not issue data on COVID-19 cases and tests on Sunday, June 28, due to an unplanned shutdown of the state surveillance system. Daily provision of case counts and additional data will resume once the system returns to full functionality. Full statement below.”
6/27: Cases swell to 40,172 with 728 new reports
Tennessee reported 728 new coronavirus cases on Saturday — a 1.8% increase on the heels of the largest single-day increase on Friday — to bring the total to 40,172.
Deaths rose to 584 on Saturday, an increase of seven from Friday — a 1.2% increase, the Tennessee Department of Health reported.
Some 26,159 people have recovered from the virus. There have been 2,564 people hospitalized and 748,229 have been tested.
6/26: TDH reports more than 39K COVID-19 cases
- The total COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 39,444 as of Friday, June 26, 2020 including 577 deaths, 2,498 hospitalizations and 25,753 recovered.
6/25: Confirmed, probable COVID-19 cases rise to more than 38K
- TDH reported Thursday that the total COVID-19 case count for Tennessee was at 38,034 including 567 deaths, 2,431 hospitalizations and 25,280 recovered.
6/24: Restaurants reopening after workers test negative for COVID-19
- Two restaurants that were previously closed to a possible COVID-19 contact, are reopening.
- Tako Taco and Kaizen say that the management team and the workers who potentially had that contact tested negative.
- They’re encouraging all workers to be tested and the restaurants say no one has shown any symptoms, so it’s back to regular hours as of Thursday.
6/22: Oak Ridge pool adjusting hours
- Oak Ridge Outdoor Pool adjusting its hours after its first week operating with COVID-19 safety measures.
- Now, the pool will offer two blocks, each three hours long, instead of three, two hour blocks.
- The new times will be from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- All other precautions remain the same, including allowing 200 people into the pool at one time, and with people making reservations online.
6/22: KAT buses resume regular schedule, routes
- In Knoxville, KAT buses are returning to regular service on July 6.
- All routes will return to regular service schedules and buses will continue to be fare-free until further notice.
6/22: COVID-19 cases rise to 35,553 in the state
- Tennessee Department of Health reports there are now 35,553 cases of COVID-19 in the state, along with 23,567 of those cases recovered.
6/21: 429 new cases in Tennessee, up 1.3% to 34,446
- Tennessee reported 429 new coronavirus cases on Saturday — a 1.3% one-day increase — to bring the total to 34,446.
- This comes after the biggest single-day increase in cases for Tennessee on Friday. And it wasn’t driven by an outbreak at a prison, as has been the case on other big increase days. The Shelby County Sheriff did report the sheriff’s office 162 jail detainees and 75 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.
- And the state is among those where coronavirus is on the uptrend.
6/20: Shelby County reports biggest virus spike since pandemic began
Tennessee’s largest county reported Saturday its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases, though officials were trying to figure out if the jump represented a surge in people getting sick or delayed results from testing laboratories.
The Shelby County Health Department in Memphis reported an increase of 385 cases of the new coronavirus, eclipsing the previous single-day spike by more than 100 cases.
Health officials have been closely monitoring a recent increase in cases and hospitalizations in Memphis after the county began reopening nonessential businesses that had been closed as part of the virus response.
In its Saturday report, the health department said it is investigating the “marked increase in reported cases to discern whether it indicates an actual increase in positive COVID-19 test results or is a product of delayed laboratory reporting.”
Shelby County, the state’s largest by population, has reported more than 7,800 cases and 153 deaths. More than 60 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
6/18: Greeneville sets Fourth of July plans
- Greeneville’s annual downtown Fourth of July celebration will be spreading out this year to comply with CDC social distancing guidelines. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a concert at Gosnell’s Stereo and Music. A second concert will begin at 7:30 at Hardin Park.
- Finally, a caravan-style parade will lead to the fireworks show at Greeneville High School. A limited number of masks will be handed out and hand sanitizing stations will be put in place.
- Anderson County also announced its Independence Day plans on Thursday as well.
6/17: TDH reports 313 new COVID-19 cases, 32,143 total, 497 deaths in Tennessee
Total case count in Tennessee has reached 32,143 with 229 of those being labeled as probable cases, along with 21,282 recovered.
6/16: Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival has been cancelled
According to a spokesperson, the Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival has been cancelled over concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is with a heavy heart we have decided to cancel the GSM Hot Air Balloon Festival. This was a tough decision to make, but we feel it is the best decision for the festival, our community and our patrons. We look forward to seeing you next year.”
6/16: Knoxville Museum of Art announces reopening date
- The Knoxville Museum of Art will reopen beginning Wednesday, July 1, with limited hours and extensive precautions to ensure the health and safety of visitors and museum staff. The museum closed on March 16 in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
- The KMA will be open on a restricted schedule, from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The museum will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. (The KMA will also be closed Saturday, July 4.)
“We’re very much looking forward to reopening our doors to the public. We are pleased to announce that, thanks to the generosity of the many lenders to the exhibition, the run of ‘Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door’ has been extended through Oct. 25. The museum’s permanent flagship exhibitions, ‘Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee’ and ‘Currents: Recent Art from East Tennessee and Beyond,’ have been reinstalled and refreshed, so there’s a lot for museum visitors to see and enjoy.”David Butler, KMA executive director
- Attendance will be limited to 25 visitors per hour and reservations will be required by signing up on www.eventbrite.com. A link is also available on the KMA website. Admission is free.
- Visitors will access the museum via the June and Rob Heller Garden gate adjacent to the parking lot, enter the building on the lower level, and exit at street level (one-way route).
- Visitors will be asked to wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart. Disposable masks will be available for visitors who need them. Cleaning and sanitizing in public areas will be greatly increased.
6/16: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state rise to 31,612 on Tuesday
The Tennessee Department of Health reports there are 31,612 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, along with 20,710 of those cases being recovered.
There have been 2,146 total hospitalizations and 493 deaths as of Tuesday.
6/15: Prestige Cleaners offers tri-star face masks
- Presitge Cleaners announced on Twitter that they’re now offering Tennessee tri-star face masks, that are handmade by employees.
“100% cotton outer layer, 100% muslin filter sleeve, removable microbial filter, washable, bendable nose piece.”Prestige Cleaners
6/15: Confirmed, probable case count rises to 31,160
- The confirmed and probable COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now at 31,160 as of June 15, 2020 with30,951 confirmed cases and 209 probable cases; including 483 deaths, 2,106 hospitalizations and 20,062 recovered.
6/15: Dollywood begins reopening Monday for season pass holders
- More than 700 operational changes will greet Dollywood guests beginning Monday as the theme park reopens for the first time since shutting its doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dollywood and Dollywood Splash Country will reopen to season pass holders Monday and Tuesday, June 15-16 before opening to the general public on Wednesday, June 17.
6/14: Total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee surpasses 30,000
- The state now has 30,225 confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 207 probable cases.
- There have been over 615K people tested in the state, and over 19,000 have recovered.
6/13: Total case count now nearing 30,000
- On Saturday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 415 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, bring the total to 29,541.
6/12: The numbers just keep rising
- The Knox County Health Department reported 22 new COVID-19 cases in Knox County on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 547.
- Cases rose sharply for the state, partly due to a reporting change that now includes probable cases and deaths.
6/11: State COVID-19 cases surpass 28,000 according to TDH
- The Tennessee Department of Health said 28,340 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across the state, including 441 deaths. The current cases of the novel coronavirus total 9,418.
6/10: TDH reports 27,869 COVID-19 cases
- The confirmed COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 27,869 as of June 10, 2020 including 436 deaths, 1,990 hospitalizations and 18,516 recovered.
6/10: State, UT surveyors collecting data from Tennesseans on economic well-being through the summer
- Surveyors with the state and the University of Tennessee will be collecting data from Tennesseans regarding economic well-being amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and reopening initiatives.
- Governor Bill Lee’s office has announced that the state’s Economic Recovery Group (ERG) is partnering with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, and the Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (SWORPS) to collectively collect and analyze survey data.
- The purpose of this partnership is for the group to conduct surveys every other week through the summer to track Tennessean’s sense of safety and economic well-being as the state moves through its reopening phases.
- The first round of data was released Wednesday: Consumer Sentiments about COVID-19 in Tennessee
6/10: State to allow limited visitation at long-term care facilities under new guidelines
- Governor Bill Lee along with the Unified Command Group (UCG) have released guidance today on allowing long-term care facilities in the state to provide limited visitation options while ensuring the safety of their residents from COVID-19.
- The UCG guidelines, along with a forthcoming executive order will allow new forms of visitation, start June 15.
6/9: Knoxville Fanboy Expo postponed until 2021
- This year’s Knoxville Fanboy Expo is postponed until 2021, due to new rules and regulations.
- If you have tickets, you can keep them and use them next year, or you can get a refund.
- Next year’s expo is set for June 25 through the 27.
6/9: Jefferson County Fair Board announces cancellation of the 2020 Jefferson County Fair
- The Jefferson County Fair, which was slotted to take place from August 11 through the 15, has been cancelled due to concerns with COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic has effected all our lives across the entire world along with the ability to attend and enjoy our County Fairs. The safety and well being of our Volunteers, Vendors, Exhibitors and Patrons has always been and will continue to be our main priority.”Jefferson County Fair Board
6/9: Tennessee’s cases up by 631 to 27,575
- Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tennessee were up 631 to 27,575 — or 2.3% — on Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Health said.
- Deaths were also up from Monday to 435, an increase of 14, or 3.3%. There have been 18,013 recoveries from the virus.
- There have been 1,974 people hospitalized and 521,197 have been tested.
6/8: TN State Fair to ‘shutter this year’s event’ due to concerns with COVID-19
- On Monday, the Tennessee State Fair has announced that it will shutter this year’s event over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
- The fair has been held in Nashville without fail since WWII, and even though the more than 150-year-old event has been shuttered, fair officials say they’re working on activities that will be open to the public.
“The Fair is not closing its doors or abandoning its long history and tradition. We’re just doing what we believe is in the best interest of the health and well being of those who walk through our gates each year.”State Fair Manager Scott Jones
- The Tennessee State Fair’s usual 10-day production is set to kick off again on September 10, 2021.
- The full announcement is on the state fair’s website.
6/8: TDH reports 26,944 COVID-19 cases
- Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the state were 26,944 on Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health said.
- Cases were up by 563, the Department of Health reported.
- Deaths were also up from Sunday to 421, an increase of three. There have been 17,563 recoveries from the virus.
6/7: 26,381 cases, 418 deaths and 17,222 recoveries
- Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state were 26,381 on Sunday with 418 deaths and 17,222 recoveries, the Tennessee Department of Health said.
- Cases were up by 310 — or 1.2%, the Department of Health reported.
- Deaths were also up by one from Saturday to 418. There have been 17,222 recoveries from the virus.
6/6: Coronavirus cases hit 26,071 with 417 deaths
- Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state were 26,071 on Saturday with 417 deaths, the Tennessee Department of Health said.
- Cases were up by 551 — or 2.2%, the Department of Health reported.
- Deaths were also up by nine from Friday to 417, also an increase of 2.2%. There have been 17,124 recoveries from the virus.
- There have been 1,923 people hospitalized and 491,421 have been tested.
6/5: Change Center reopens with skating
- The Change Center is reopening for 2-hour skate sessions Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a maximum capacity of 50 skaters.
- The Change Center is also requiring guests take a temperature check before entering the building and wear a face mask at all times.
6/5: TDH reports 25,520 COVID-19 cases
- The confirmed COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 25,520 as of June 5, 2020, including 408 deaths, 1,893 hospitalizations and 16,925 recovered.
6/5: Active Knox County cases drop below 100
- The Knox County Health Department reported nearly 30 new recovered COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases down under 100.
- Knox County reported 92 active cases on Friday, down from 112 reported on Thursday. The county surpassed 100 total active cases for the first time on Wednesday.
- The total number of recovered cases grew by 28. The total number of recovered cases now stands at 363. Knox County hadn’t reported a new recovered case since Monday.
- Menefee said the Health Department’s data on the number of tests given out in Knox County is not a firm number as many private clinics and hospitals are offering tests. However, regardless of how many are tested, the important information is that cases are on the rise and following the five core actions is still important.
6/4: Judge: Tennessee must allow vote by mail for all amid virus
- A judge has ruled that Tennessee must give all of its voters the option to cast ballots by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled that the state’s limits on absentee voting during the pandemic constitute “an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.”
6/4: TDH reports more than 25K COVID-19 cases
- The confirmed COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 25,120 as of June 4, 2020, including 401 deaths, 1,855 hospitalizations and 16,643 recovered.
- Cases were up by 298 — or 1.2%, the Department of Health reported.
- Deaths were also up by 3.4% from Wednesday to 401, an increase of 13. There have been 16,643 recoveries from the virus.
6/4: Sevier County Health Dept. changing testing format
- COVID-19 testing at the Sevier County Health Department is now by appointment only. If you want to make an appointment you are asked to call 865-429-6232.
6/4: Pirates Voyage resuming operation June 10
- Pirates Voyage is setting sail again in Pigeon Forge. The dinner show is joining World Choice Investments’ properties Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud and Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe that are already in operation following the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
- “We are excited to open on June 10 and to get back to entertaining families with this unique show,” World Choice Investments CEO Jim Rule said. “Like our other operations, we will be observing the social distancing guidelines provided by the Tennessee Pledge.”
6/3: Knox County active cases goes over 100
- The Knox County Health Department reported eight new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 101, the first time active cases has reached triple digits.
- Buchanan said that the increase is concerning but not unexpected with more people getting tested for the novel coronavirus and going back to work, shops and restaurants following the move to phase 2 of the Knoxville-Knox County reopening plan.
- The Health Department is in the process of expanding its contact tracing staff to handle the increased caseload.
6/3: TDH reports 24,822 COVID-19 cases in the state
- The confirmed COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 24,822 as of June 3, 2020, including 388 deaths, 1,829 hospitalizations and 16,319 recovered.
6/2: Cases are up by 821 to 24,375
- Tennessee saw a sharp jump in confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Cases were up by 821 — or 3.5% — to 24,375, the Tennessee Department of Health reported.
- Deaths also jumped by 3.8% from Monday to 381, an increase of 14. There have been 15,916 recoveries from the virus, the Department of Health said.
- There have been 1,792 people hospitalized and 462,136 have been tested.
6/1: Main Event announces reopening Friday
- Knoxville’s Main Event reopening its door its doors this Friday. The family entertainment venue located off Kingston Pike, says it’s developed a new standard of cleanliness called, “Play Smart, Play Safe,” in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- There is now a new cleaning team of employees, dedicated to cleaning the center from top to bottom throughout the day.
- All staff will receive temperature checks before each shift and will be required to wear a mask.
- There will also be six foot markers to promote social distancing, every piece of equipment will be cleaned between uses, and the venue is implementing contact-less pay for everyone.
6/1: TN Dept. of Education announces second phase of partnership with PBS
- The Tennessee Department of Education has announced the second phase of its PBS partnership to keep kids learning throughout the summer.
- Now through the end of July, East Tennessee PBS will offer educational programming for kindergarten through third grade students.
- That content will be airing weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; your kids can learn history, math and language at home.
- This to go along with student packets being sent home with kids.
6/1: TDH reports 23,554 COVID-19 cases with 367 deaths for June 1
- Tennessee begins June with 23,554 confirmed coronavirus cases, 367 deaths from the virus and 15,564 recoveries, the Tennessee Department of Health reported Monday.
- Cases rose by 548 from Sunday. The number of deaths from the coronavirus is from Saturday-Sunday went up by three, according to the Department of Health.
- There have been 1,767 people hospitalized and 15,564 have recovered.
6/1: Health Dept. stops issuing state masks; active cases in Knox County increase by 159% in a week
- Active cases of COVID-19 in Knox County have increased more than 159% in a week. On May 25, the Health Department reported 27 active cases. Twenty-eight new cases of the novel coronavirus were identified over the weekend.
- Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness for KCHD, said the majority of the recent increase is from clusters. Menefee did not provide any details as to the makeup of the lastest cluster increases.
- “The practice of finding these clusters and conducting case investigations is part of what we do as part of public health,” Menefee said. “We are continuing to respond efficiently with case investigations, monitoring and contact tracing, and that will result in an increase in cases a lot of times.
- The Knox County Health Department is halting the distribution of the masks given to them by the state.
- Questions have been raised about the masks’ safety after a news report released Friday found the antimicrobial used on the masks is also registered as a pesticide.
- “We are no longer distributing the face coverings until more information is learned about the antimicrobial that is used on the mask and have asked our partners to do the same,” Menefee said.
- The Health Department has not given a mask out since Friday and is deferring questions about the masks to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. The state announced May 6 that each county health department would receive a portion of the 5 million masks it had bought to distribute for free.