Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County Health Department hosting public housing testing this weekend, reports 67 active cases

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department reported two fewer COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total case number down to 305, and said it will hold testing events this weekend in public housing communities.

Knox County reported 67 active cases on Thursday, down from 69 on Wednesday.

Thursday data marked the first decrease in the total number of cases since Monday, May 4.

The total number of recovered cases remained at 233 for the second straight day. Recovered cases refer to those who have been released from isolation after seven days from their onset of symptoms, plus 72 hours of being symptom-free. Recovered does not mean necessarily the person had to be hospitalized.

Case breakdown by age range
Source: Knox County Health Dept.

There is one patient currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of the 305 cases, 37 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness and five deaths. 

There are three probable cases of COVID-19, according to the county information page, down from five on Wednesday.

The Knox County Health Department updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. Visit covid.knoxcountytn.gov for more information. The department holds a daily press briefing at 12:30 p.m. that can be viewed in this web story or on the Knox County Youtube channel.

Testing events today, this weekend

KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan says testing events will be held Thursday, May 14, and this weekend. The Health Department will be in the Lonsdale Community today from 3-6 p.m. at the Emerald Youth Foundation’s Haslam-Sansom Ministry Complex. Drive-thru and walk-up testing for members of the community are free of charge.

Public housing events will be held this weekend in conjunction with the Tennessee National Guard and Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation. Testing events will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Cagle Terrace, Isabella Towers and Five Points Infill Housing.

Testing events at Guy B. Love Towers, Northgate Terrace and Montgomery Village will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. These public housing events are open to residents only and are free of charge.

Antibody testing

Additionally, Buchanan addressed antibody testing. Antibodies are proteins that are created by the body to fight off infection of certain germs. Buchanan said testing for COVID-19 antibodies may yield a positive result if the person has had to fight one type of coronavirus. This along with the time needed for the body to produce the antibody to fight infection are reasons why current antibody tests are not reliable.

“Even the current antibody tests that have been approved to the FDA’s emergency use authorization have not yet been validated to be used in clinical practice and should not be used in patient care,” she said.

The “gold standard” continues to be the nasal swab that looks for the presence of COVID-19, Buchanan said.

Still too early to evaluate phase one

The jury is still out on how the first phase of the Knoxville-Knox County phased reopening plan is going, Buchanan said during Thursday’s media briefing.

The reported decline of positive COVID-19 cases was the result of new contact tracing information on a few cases that were deemed to reside outside of Knox County. Buchanan said however that the number of positive cases in Knox County is staying flat and residents, for the most part, are following the five core principles outlined in the reopening plan.

“(Businesses) are doing the things that need to happen,” she said. “They don’t want to make people sick. They want to keep us moving forward, so we are pleased with that.

“We are pleased with how people are asking questions and cooperating. The majority of people are doing the things that need to be done to keep us moving forward.

“If all of us do those things, we are a more likely to open things up a little more in phase two.”

It is still to be determined what phase two will look like. The Health Department has been gathering input from business leaders and speaking with government leadership to develop a definitive set of guidelines.

Masks still available

The Knox County Health Department corrected its mask count from Wednesday. The department said it has given out about 7,000 masks and an additional 6,000 have been given to community partners who plant to distribute them.

The department got an initial shipment of 19,000 masks last week from the state. An additional 40,000 masks were received this week. Plans are being made to distribute them in a more effective way.

“We want them out in the community, and we want to distribute them,” Buchanan said.

You can pick up a free mask from noon to 4:30 p.m. at the Knox County Health Department, 140 Dameron Ave.

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