KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Health Department has reported they started tracking a rise in COVID cases back in mid-April to May of this year, just as summer travel and celebrations got underway.

To slow the spread of COVID, Dr. Corinne Tandy, the lead epidemiologist for KCHD, said people should take precautions and follow the core actions the health department has always recommended. Actions like masking up while traveling, social distancing, hand washing and staying home when not feeling well. Dr. Tandy said it will also be key for people to utilize the at-home COVID tests to make sure they don’t unknowingly spread coronavirus.

Tandy also spoke about some actions people may not think to take before traveling, like checking transmission rates and recommendations at a destination.

“Check the transmission for rates where you are going if you’re not coming here,” said Tandy. “When traveling somewhere else I would just check to see what kind of recommendations they have in place to modify their transmission and be prepared for that so you don’t land in say a big city and you don’t have any masks.”

Dr. Tandy suggests getting vaccinated against COVID if you have not done so. In addition, you can order at-home COVID tests from COVIDtests.gov

Tandy also spoke about monkeypox as it relates to the region, saying they are monitoring cases.

“We expect to have one,” she said. “We don’t know when, we don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like, but we don’t expect to not find one.”

Monkeypox is a viral infection that can carry flu-like symptoms and a rash, according to Tandy. The rash typically begins on the face and then spreads to other areas of the body. The lesions then progress through different stages before falling off.

Tandy said they are working with providers in the area to encourage testing for monkeypox. She also said the transmission of monkeypox is much different than that of COVID, because it requires direct touch.

“This is a condition that is transmitted through significant direct contact with the characteristic rash that presents itself in the illness.” said Tandy.

Since the transmission of monkeypox is much more direct, Tandy said they do not expect a large number of monkeypox cases this summer, but again, KCHD is monitoring the situation.

“You know, traveling for the weekend, traveling during the summer, we don’t expect a modified risk,” she said.

Currently, there are no reported cases of monkeypox in Tennessee.