Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County Health Dept. searching for new testing location, reports 19th death


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County reported the 14th death from COVID-19 in the first 20 days of July on Monday as cases continue to rise steadily, according to new data from The Knox County Health Department.

Knox County reported one new death, 93 new active cases and two new recoveries on Monday. There are 1,311 active COVID-19 cases in the county and 19 people have died from the virus.

Fourteen of the 19 deaths in the county have been reported since July 2.

Of the 2,314 total cases seen in Knox County since the pandemic began, 161 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness. There are 44 Knox County patients currently hospitalized, up from 41 on Sunday.

During the Friday media briefing, Knox County Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan announced that no testing will take place at the Knox County Health Department on Monday, July 20. Buchanan expressed concern for people exposed to high temperatures while waiting in line in their cars and says the department will look to create a covered testing area to avoid heat exposure. They hope to resume testing on Wednesday, July 22.

The number of recoveries grew to 984. Recovered cases refer to those who have been released from isolation after 10 days from their onset of symptoms, plus 72 hours of being symptom-free. Recovered does not mean necessarily the person had to be hospitalized.

Knox County currently lists 113 probable cases of COVID-19 on the county website, up from 93 on Sunday.

The Knox County Health Department updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. Visit for more information. Press briefings by Knox County Health Department are held at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Search for new KCHD testing site

The Knox County Health Department said Monday it is searching for a new testing location as temperatures continue to rise. For the last two months, the protocol has kept test seekers waiting outside the Health Department’s main location, 140 Dameron Ave., between the hours of 9-3 p.m. each day, which is typically the hottest time of the day.

“We are looking for a space big enough to be able to let people stand in line inside and maintain 6 feet of social distancing,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department.

Other requirements for a new testing location include site availability for an extended period of time, working Wi-Fi, convenient to bus lines and ease of walkability to the site.

The Health Department typically has testing five days a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays testing is done at the main office. Individuals who wish to be tested do not need an appointment and there is no cost to the individual. The line cutoff time is 2 p.m. You are asked to wear a mask in line and bring a bottle of water.

Testing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend are for more targeted testing events for high-risk populations and areas of the county.

KCHD also has a map of places across the county that are offering testing on its website.

Buchanan recommended that test seekers quarantine after receiving a test as if they are positive since the test is “a snapshot in time.”

“If you are concerned that you have COVID, we certainly want you to get tested,” she said. “But please remember that a negative test does not mean you won’t ever get the virus or you’re immune to the virus.

“Stay home and don’t host a dinner party if you are awaiting results. We sincerely appreciate all of the folks in our community who are staying home while awaiting their results. You’re making a difference in reducing the spread of the virus.”

Additionally, the board of health’s recommendation that went into effect Thursday calls for those seeking a test not to go to work, even if you are not showing symptoms.

Test results coming back from the lab KCHD is using right now are taking as much as 12 days to return Buchanan said Monday.

Contact tracing

If you test positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer from KCHD will be in contact within 24 hours of the case receiving test results.

Buchanan said the contact tracer will ask questions about their travel history, close contacts in the last week, who they may have shared food or drink with, and the social distance between the positive case and others at places and events.

Once the contact tracer identities the positive case’s close contacts, those contacts are called and made aware that they have come in contact with a person positive for COVID-19. The positive case is not identified by KCHD but Buchanan said some positive cases have told their close contacts.

The close contacts are asked to quarantine and are monitored every day by the Health Department’s contact tracers.

“If you get sick, you’re not going to have contacts to make sick,” Buchanan said of the close contacts. “We ask you to stay home and stay in quarantine we really mean really limit your activity; and even reduce contact with your family if you can. I know that’s not always possible but that is how we break the chain of transmission.”

Buchanan said Knox County has had cases of the novel coronavirus in day cares but none have been linked specifically to gyms.

If a person tests positive for COVID-19, recovers and then tests positive again they are counted as one positive case Buchanan said.

When asked about test reliability, Buchanan said the most accurate test is the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test. The rapid reaction tests that do not get sent to a lab tend to be less accurate.

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

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