Coronavirus in Tennessee: Testing moving to Health Department, over 1,200 put in quarantine so far

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department reported two new recovered COVID-19 cases on Thursday, to bring the county’s case total to 367.

Knox County reported 47 active cases on Thursday, down from 48 on Wednesday. Knox County previously had three consecutive days where the total number of active cases Knox County rose.

Two new recovered cases were reported. The total number of recoveries is now 315. 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 patient currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. There have been five total deaths in Knox County from COVID-19.

Of the 367 cases, 40 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness. There are 10 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.

Testing moving to Health Dept. next week

COVID-19 testing is moving to the Health Department starting next week with a new format. Testing will take place at the department’s main office at 140 Dameron Ave. and no appointment will be required.

Testing hours will remain the same and signs advising individuals who are wanting a test will be posted to direct them. Testing will be available from 9-3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are still being reserved for targeted testing in neighborhoods where it is not as accessible.

“This shift in process will help us more efficiently use our team members while also protecting them from the anticipated summer heat,” Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease and emergency preparedness for the Knox County Health Department, said. “Individuals who wish to be tested will no longer need to call our public information line. They can just show up at a time that best fits their schedule.

“We will pilot this process next week and will make adjustments as needed.”

Details on isolation and quarantine

Menefee said KCHD has monitored more than 1,200 contacts and placed them in quarantine. The contacts include anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and the people they live with as well as probable cases.

The contacts get daily monitoring from the Health Department.

There have been 10 probable cases in Knox County for a few days now. Menefee said that cases can move in as others move out or choose not to get tested.

“People if they don’t want to get tested, they don’t have to, but again, we still have them follow the same isolation guidelines as a laboratory-confirmed case,” she said. “So there’s a lot of different things in there that can make that number either go up or down or stay the same, just like any other cases that we work with.”

‘COVID-19 is still here’

Menefee also continued to encourage Knox County residents to follow the five core principles of the Knoxville-Knox County reopening plan.

The five principles are:

  • 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.

When asked about residents not wearing masks and those who say wearing a mask is an infringement on their rights, Menefee sympathized with them but said the guidelines are in place for a reason.

“I can understand that in one way, but I think it’s really and what we encourage people to look at it as not as an infringement on your rights, but as you trying to look out for your neighbors and your loved ones and your community members, and doing what’s right to help protect them,” she said.

“The fact is COVID-19 is still here and it will continue to be here. … We need to continue to take it seriously. When we make small adjustments we can still go out, patronize restaurants and shops and do all of those things but we need to do it safely so that we are protecting our community.”

If someone has concerns about a business not following guidelines they are asked to call 311.

What a red light could mean

After three straight days of increases in positive COVID-19 cases in Knox County, the threat of going away from a green light in the Health Departments benchmark guide has risen. The guide is meant as a simplified look at what KCHD is taking into consideration as to how the county will move forward in its reopening plan.

While the increase is worrisome, the department is looking at all guidelines and data before it makes a traffic light change or an alteration to its reopening plans.

“It really is what the whole picture looks like,” Menefee said. “Red lights are warnings, just like yellow lights are, to take a much deeper dive into the data and look at the information.

“We still want to know about hospital capacity and ability to take care of these patients, our ability in public health to tract the new cases and do contact tracing and make sure people get into isolation and quarantine.”

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