KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, 20 people have tested positive in Knox County for the coronavirus COVID-19, according to the county health department. Four are currently hospitalized, and six of the 20 have recovered.

Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness for the Knox County Health Department, said the focus remains on following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including washing your hands and practicing social distancing.

Menefee said KCHD expects the number of positive cases to continue to rise but following the guidelines will help ‘flatten the curve’ and avoid a spike in coronavirus cases. She said those that are worried about the coronavirus can control themselves and how they respond by staying at home and avoid touching your face to help slow the spread.

There is no plan at the moment to elevate past the safer at home order issued on Monday.

“At this point, we really are sticking with this safer at home order and asking people to do what we’re requesting: that they stay at home if they are not in those essential categories, they’re not those essential workers that have to get out and keep our communities going,” Menefee said.

“I can say I’ve been in I’ve been here for 20 years and been working in communicable disease for a very long time and the vast majority of people always do what we’re asking in these situations. So we’re really relying on people to continue to follow that order. We will talk about situations with our leadership if things change, but at this point, we’re still focusing on the order itself.”

Menefee said KCHD has received calls asking about nonessential businesses staying open. She said those reports, as well as the ones coming into the Knox County 311 information line, are passed onto their environmental health team. That team then follows up with the businesses. The number of reports of businesses not complying was unknown.

Restaurants are still open across Knox County for takeout and delivery. Menefee said that evidence suggests that restaurant contact is not the primary mode of transmission for COVID-19.

“Right now the recommendation is we want to encourage people to still participate and go to businesses and support them in ways that you can,” she said. “Make sure that people are washing your hands after you’ve gotten the food. Don’t touch your face that type of thing. It’s very important for any anything that we’re doing to include that. That’s how the virus gets into your body for the most part.”

Menefee also said that there is no evidence that hot drinks kill the coronavirus.

County to pay for uninsured to get COVID-19 test

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs announced Wednesday that the county would pay for COVID-19 testing for uninsured residents through the Knox County Health Department.

The tests are limited and only those who meet the clinical guidelines will be tested.

“One of the most important things we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is extensive testing,” Mayor Jacobs said. “As we continue to keep our community protected, we’re happy to help people who cannot afford that cost.”

To qualify, those without insurance must first call KCDC at 865-215-5555. KCDH staff will assess patients over the phone to determine testing options. Residents must be symptomatic and meet clinical guidelines to be tested.

Walk-in testing is not available at the Health Department at this time.

Symptoms include a fever of more than 100.4 degrees, a cough and shortness of breath.