Knox County Health Dept. says COVID-19 cases, deaths increasing with weather changes a cause for concern


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One light change was made Wednesday evening to the Knox County Health Department’s weekly COVID-19 benchmarks.

Benchmark No. 5, sustained or decreased COVID-19 related death rate for identified positive or probable cases, is now “yellow” it was “green” a week ago.

To more visually represent how the benchmarks are being attained, a traffic light is being utilized to depict the status of each benchmark.

 Red signifies the trends are not moving towards benchmark attainment and may indicate adjustments need to be made.

 Yellow signifies the trends are moving towards/away from reaching benchmark attainment. Yellow indicates caution.

 Green signifies that the benchmark is currently met.

On Thursday, the Knox County Health Department reported two new coronavirus deaths among Knox County residents. There have been 99 Knox County residents that have died since the pandemic began.

As Knox County deaths from COVID-19 near 100, Menefee said nearly every age range has been affected. The ages of the deceased are still trending older and those with more comorbidities.

Benchmark No. 1., sustained reduction or stability in new cases for 14 days, is still red this week as active cases among county residents have risen above 1,300. In the last seven days, KCHD has reported 749 new cases. In the previous seven days 755 cases were reported.

Benchmark No. 2, community-wide sustained and increased diagnostic testing with consistent or decreased test result reporting turnaround time, is represented as yellow.

Benchmark No. 3, sustained or increased public health capability, is green.

Benchmark No. 4, health care system capabilities remain within current and forecasted surge capacity, is yellow.

Case numbers, deaths and positive case numbers are increasing in Knox County for multiple reasons. Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness at the Knox County Health Department, said the increases are exactly what the department has been concerned about.

“You have a lot of things happening at one time,” Menefee said. “The weather is getting a little cooler and that is going to move people indoors. And the more people indoors and close proximity the more opprotunity for spread there is.

“At a time when there is also just frankly a lot of fatigue with following the five core actions. People are tired of hearing about this. Whether we’re tired of talking it or hearing about it, the virus isn’t going away.”

Flu clinic today

Menefee went on to say that preventing a busy flu season by getting a flu shot can keep the burden of treatment off hospitals who are already having to combat against the coronavirus.

KCHD is hosting a flu vaccine clinic from 3-6 p.m. today, Oct. 22, at Victor Ashe Park, 4901 Bradshaw Road. There is no appointment needed and no cost to those receiving a flu shot or flu mist.

Anyone ages 6 months and up can receive a flu shot. The high-dose vaccine recommended for older community members will not be available.

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