Coronavirus in Tennessee: Active Knox County cases down to 35, 154 total; race, ZIP code data coming

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department is reporting two new cases on Friday, bringing the total case number to 154.

There are now 35 active cases in the county as of April 10, down from 42 on Thursday.

“We’re seeing a slowed rate of increase in our cases, which is exactly what we are wanting to see and we are encouraged by that with the social distancing we have going on,” said Charity Menefee, director of Communicable and Environmental Disease at KCHD. “But we are still seeing a steady increase in cases. We have not started going down the other side of the curve yet. We are still going up.”

The total number of recovered cases now stands at 115, up from 106 on Thursday. 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.

Eighteen of the 154 cases have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness. This figure does not reflect the number of patients currently hospitalized in the county.

In Knox County, 3,150 total tests have now been conducted.

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

Numbers change, more data coming

Menefee noted a pair of numbers have changed since Thursday’s briefing.

The number of cases of those hospitalized from Knox County has gone down from 19 to 18. The patient is being counted in a different jurisdiction after learning more about their residency.

Also, the potential fifth death the department reported about on Thursday was living in a different stat and will be counted with those numbers. Menefee said the health department is offering their condolences to the family.

Menefee said that more Knox County data is coming later Friday including details on coronavirus cases broken down by race, ethnicity and ZIP code. She said the data coincides with the racial demographic for Knox County and the data nationally.

That data has shown a disproportionate number of African Americans have been impacted by COVID-19.

“I think that speaks to the bigger picture as to the disparities within that population: higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and that kind of thing,” Menefee said. “

Health Department increasing testing capability

Starting Monday, the health department will be able to increase testing its current 15-20 tests per day to more than 90 tests per day and loosen restrictions on who will be able to receive one.

Those with underlying health conditions that are at-risk for COVID-19 complications and those experiencing expanded symptoms outside the “big three” of fever, cough and shortness of breath will be now be considered for testing by KCHD.

“Testing remains one of the most important ways to determine the state of health in Knox County and we are encouraged by this progress,” Menefee said.

Tests will continue to be available Monday through Friday at KCHD. Calling ahead to schedule an appointment will still be required. That number is 865-215-5555 or toll-free 888-288-6022.

The Easter weekend hours for the phone bank are:

  • Friday, April 10, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 12 CLOSED

Despite the increased testing capacity, the best way to get a test remains through your primary care physician, Menefee said. If you do not have a PCP, the health department phone bank can help you find a care facility that will help you with getting a test.

Cautious improvement

While the numbers locally seem to be getting better and with Gov. Bill Lee’s executive stay-at-home order set to expire April 14, Menefee said discussions on lifting the order or allowing nonessential businesses to reopen is still ongoing.

She said those talks will come once Lee makes a decision on his order and whether

“Across the board, social distancing has been doing a good job of slowing the rate of increase of illness in our area,” Menefee said.

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

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