KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The University of Tennessee-Knoxville currently has 28 positive COVID-19 cases, Chancellor Donde Plowman confirmed Thursday.

Plowman said 20 of the 28 positive cases on campus are students, while the remaining eight cases are university employees. Those active cases include ongoing cases, only 4 of 28 are new reports since August 9th.

Officials said 155 people are currently self-isolating due to potential exposure. In those cases of self-isolation, the majority are self-isolating because of exposure to a positive COVID-19 case.

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Data provided by the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Students started moving into dorms Sunday, August 9.

Campus testing capabilities growing

Joining Plowman on the virutal update, Dr. Spencer Gregg, the Director of the Student Health Center at UT Knoxville.

Gregg said the university is currently contracted with three companies to provide testing quickly. UT Knoxville is also in the process of securing rapid tests for faster results through the Student Health Center.

“UT has elected to follow CDC’s guidance for screening and testing on college campuses. We have also partnered with the Knox County Health Department in performing on campus surveillance testing of wastewater and pooled saliva as an additional measure in early identification of those without symptoms or known exposures. Information regarding our testing program is available on our COVID-19 website.” 

University of Tennessee Knoxville Director of Student Health Center Dr. Spencer Gregg
University of Tennessee Knoxville Chancellor’s COVID-19 Update

The University of Tennessee defines “close contact” as being within 6-feet of another person for more than 10 minutes. That definition, important for the campus community to understand, because Gregg says, it will help individuals recognize when they should self-isolate.

Students and faculty will be required to complete daily health checks online. Students have been given thermometers to take their temperatures daily.

“We are prepared to test students that need to be tested based on their exposure risks and symptoms. Surveillance testing of those without symptoms or known exposures will also occur. Our contracted reference labs have combined capacity for testing in the thousands. The turn-around time on those results will be dependent on their total number of tests received from multiple facilities. Hospitalized patients are always given priority.”

University of Tennessee Knoxville Director of Student Health Center Dr. Spencer Gregg

The Knox County Health Department is working closely with UT Knoxville leaders to ensure a smooth transition when students and faculty are back on campus. Including, training UT contact tracers.

To clarify, our Epidemiology Support Team will be conducting the initial case investigations and will coordinate with UT to conduct contact tracing for their students and staff. UT is bringing on a team to support these efforts and their portion of our partnership.

Their contact tracing leadership team has been trained by our staff; and they will work closely with our staff throughout the school year. Additional questions about UT’s plan and contact tracing program are best directed to them. 

Knox County Health Department Spokesperson

Plowman said she plans to hold virtual updates twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:30 a.m. EST, starting the first week of the semester to keep faculty, staff, students, and their families up to date.