Coronavirus in Tennessee: 35 active Knox County cases; Health Department stresses guidelines before reopening phase two

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department reported no new active cases of COVID-19 and one new recovered case on Thursday.

Knox County reported 35 active cases on Thursday, unchanged from Wednesday. The total number of cases in Knox County stands at 323.

The total number of recovered cases increased by one to 283. 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.

There are two Knox County patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Of the 323 cases, 39 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness and five deaths. There are five probable cases of COVID-19 listed on the county information page.

The Knox County Health Department updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. Visit covid.knoxcountytn.gov for more information.

Stressing core principles of reopening plan

Following the five core principles of the Knoxville-Knox County reopening plan is still the best way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness for the Health Department, reiterated the importance of the guidelines Thursday as more information on the spread of the novel coronavirus comes to light.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new information from its data that shows COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. That spread happens more easily through close, person-to-person contact than through surfaces.

“(The virus) is still very much a part of our community,” Menefee said. “The pandemic is not over.

“It is still important that people do disinfect frequently … We just want to make sure that people also understand that it is that close contact that we are really looking for.

“It doesn’t negate the need to disinfect and wash your hands.”

The five principles of the reopening plan — practice social distancing, wear cloth face coverings when in public and social distancing can’t be achieved, wash your hands properly and often, clean surfaces regularly, and stay home when sick — still apply and are “critical” as the county moves into the second phase of reopening on Tuesday.

Details on the second phase, including school sports, day camps and bar service guidelines, will be announced during Friday’s KCHD briefing. The phase two plans will take guidelines from the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health as well as input from the community survey put out by the Knoxville-Knox County Reopening Plan Task Force into consideration.

Menefee specifically addressed mask-wearing and the dissenting critics by saying that masks help mitigate the virus’s spread. About 10% of COVID-19 positive cases locally are asymptomatic which makes it hard to tell who may or may not have the deadly virus.

“Wearing a mask protects the people around you — your family, your friends, your co-workers,” she said. “While you may be healthy and not at high risk for the virus, the people around you might not be. Wearing a mask is letting those around you know that you care about their health and their safety.

“For the most part, the people that are testing positive are close household contacts and people they work in close contact with,”

“It takes all of us to keep our community safe and happy and healthy.”

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

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