KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department announced the first death in the county from COVID-19.

Knox County Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan made the announcement Monday afternoon at the department’s daily briefing. The victim, who died over the weekend, was hospitalized and belonged to a “high-risk group for complications” with COVID-19.

“We are heartbroken for this family and share our deepest condolences with them,” Buchanan said. “We know from this pandemic that this will not be our only loss. We expect to have more cases as we are still in the initial phase of this outbreak locally. we expect our case numbers and people who lose their lives from this to continue to rise.”

Buchanan said the victim had contracted the virus through community spread, meaning that the person had not traveled to a hot spot site or was not in direct contact with someone who knowingly had the coronavirus.

The total number of cases in the county rose to 57 on Monday, an increase of 39% from Sunday. Buchanan also announced that 17 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Knox County. She also gave some details into the numbers in the county.

When asked about assisted-living facilities, Buchanan said there was at least one positive case of the coronavirus at a Knox County long-term care facility. That facility is following protocols already in place as for a similar outbreak like the flu or gastrointestinal illness.

“We are working with them to make sure they keep them in place for at least 14 days to reduce the risk of infection,” Buchanan said. “We are working with them to get people who are at risk to get tested as soon as possible.”

She also said that the number of hospitalized cases includes any person who has tested positive for the coronavirus COVID-19 during any time during their illness.

KCHD seeing fewer complaints

Buchanan said KCHD is receiving fewer complaints of businesses not abiding by closure orders but stressed that everyone should take control of their own health by continuing to practice social distancing, including in parks.

“You know to observe (social distancing),” Buchanan said. “Even if you’re at the park, they don’t go away. They don’t go away at home or at the park or at work. They’re still in place. They’re still important, and again, I would also say if you’re sick don’t go to the park. Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean it’s safe and that you can’t make someone else sick.

When asked if there would be a warning or park closure order if people continued to ignore the guidelines, Buchanan said she hopes it would not come to that point.

“I really would rather take the partnership approach to this asking our community asking our residents to be in partnership with us as we try to reduce illness in our community and take those measures on their own and cooperate and follow those guidelines. They’re clearly stated in lots of different places.”