Coronavirus in Tennessee: 29 active Knox County cases, Health Department addresses testing changes, new testing event

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total case number to 199.

There are now 29 active cases in the county as of April 22, up from 27 on Tuesday. The total number of cases grew to 199 from 196.

Case breakdown by age range
Source: Knox County Health Dept.

The total number of recovered cases rose to 166. 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.

Of the 199 cases, 28 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.

The Knox County Health Department updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. on covid.knoxcountytn.gov.

Addressing shortage of testing supplies

Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness for the Knox County Health Department, offered an apology and a request from the department on Wednesday for the changes in testing.

The Knox County Health Department has tested nearly 1,000 people this month for COVID-19, including nearly 400 each on Monday and Tuesday. The unexpected number of those seeking a test put a strain on supplies and the department has gone back to a priority-based, appointment-only format for issuing tests beginning Thursday.

“It is important to use supplies we have as strategically as possible,” Menefee said.

Those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste or smell, or body aches, as well as those who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive and health care workers will be given priority.

Menefee explained that exposure means “prolonged contact with a confirmed case or being less than 6 feet for more than 10 minutes from a person.”

“An exposure is not just walking by somebody in a grocery store or stopping by and staying 6 feet away and saying, ‘hello’ to one another,” she said.

Menefee also addressed reports of people getting multiple tests.

“Please don’t get multiple tests while you’re waiting on results or if there hasn’t been any additional exposure. We want to conserve supplies.”

Charity Menefee, Knox County Health Department

There is a possibility of the health department moving back to a free and open testing model, but that decision will be made based on access to testing supplies.

Testing event at Knoxville Civic Coliseum

Thanks in part to supplies acquired by the state, the department will be able to host one free, non-appointment, non-prioritized testing event this weekend. After looking over testing data, the Health Department determined the 37915 ZIP code was the least tested part of the county.

The department will host a testing event for the community from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave. Those seeking a test can either use the drive-thru option or walk-up.

Testing best practices

Menefee said the best way to get access to a test is still through your primary care provider or an urgent care facility. You can find a list of urgent care facilities offering tests on the Knox County Health Department website or call their public information hotline 865-215-5555.

If you do suspect you have been exposed, the best time to get a test is five-to-seven days after contact. Meanwhile, you should self-isolate until you get a test.

“The virus can take a few days to show up on a test,” Menefee said.

She also warned the public about a false sense of confidence after a negative test.

“Testing is a snapshot in time. It tells us if you are positive on the day that are tested.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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