Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County Health Department warns lab delays causing case counts dip, gives details in new death cases

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department reported three new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to 13.

Knox County reported 42 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday: 22 new active cases, 17 new recoveries and three new deaths. There has now been 13 deaths from COVID-19 in Knox County.

Eight of the 13 deaths in Knox County have been reported since Thursday, July 2.

Knox County reported 41 current hospitalizations due to COVID-19, up from 40 on Sunday.

Of the 1,628 total cases seen in Knox County, 130 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness. The increase in total hospitalizations, up from 99 on Sunday, was due to a reporting delay of hospitalization data.

Knox County currently lists 63 probable cases of COVID-19 on the county website.

The number of recoveries rose to 879. 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.

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

KCHD offers details on deaths, testing

The Health Department said the three new Knox County deaths were a 45-year-old man, a 54-year-old woman and an 88-year-old woman.

According to the KCHD website, seven of the 13 total deaths in Knox County have been over the age of 75. Two have been between the ages of 18 and 44. Eight deaths have been men. Five of the deceased have been Black and five have been white.

Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, said the hearts of her department are with the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones as a result of the novel coronavirus.

The Health Department is still offering tests to anyone who would like to receive one from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at its main location at 140 Dameron Ave. The test is given at no cost but delays should be expected.

KCHD is experiencing delays as more people are seeking a test. Buchanan said the department may cutoff testing earlier to allow the staff time to collect and process all the results. Last week the department said as many as 400 people are seeking a test per day.

With warmer temperatures expected this week, those seeking a test are being asked to bring water, a lawn chair, wear a mask and practice social distancing while waiting.

Lab delays causing dip in case numbers

After a week of record-breaking new cases locally, the last few days have seen case counts dip. Buchanan said lab delays as a result of the increase in volume in testing and lack of testing supplies are the reason for the decline.

“We believe the lower numbers we have seen over the past several days are not an indication of fewer new cases but rather the result of lab delays,” she said. “We’re keeping a close eye on this and will continue to update our community accordingly.”

Buchanan went on to say that health departments across the country are dealing with taking in new data and providing updates on the novel coronavirus has been a significant undertaking.

She also said the numbers provided by KCHD “are as real time as they can possibly be.”

When asked about the number of cases increasing locally, Buchanan said it is very concerning and continued to push the five core actions: practice physical distancing, wear a cloth face covering when in public and physical distancing can’t be maintained, wash hands properly and often, clean surfaces regularly, and stay home when sick or told to quarantine/isolate.

“That is the only way we’re going to be able to continue to address our economy and COVID-19 at the same time,” she said. “If we drop our guard and we don’t practice those things, we will have more illness and that will also impact our economy.”

Parody social media account warning

Buchanan warned against a parody account on social media claiming to be the Knox County Health Department.

“Please take caution when sharing information from accounts when you are not sure if they are legitimate or not,”Buchanan said.

You can follow the Knox County Health Department on Twitter with the handle @KnoxCoHealthTN or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KnoxCountyHealthDepartment/.

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

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