Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County reports 127 new cases; Health Dept offers advice for home service workers, explains death determination

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County on Thursday reported no new COVID-19 deaths and more than 100 new recovered cases, according to the latest data from the health department.

The Knox County Health Department reported no new deaths and 127 new cases on Thursday, a 2.30% increase in the total case count. Health officials also reported 117 new recoveries.

Of the 52 deaths in Knox County, 47 have occurred since July 2.

There are now 2,207 active cases in Knox County, up from 2,197 on Wednesday.

Of the 5,655 total confirmed cases reported in Knox County since the pandemic began, 239 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness. There are 43 county patients currently hospitalized.

The number of recoveries is at 3,599. Recovered cases refer to those who have been released from isolation after 10 days from their onset of symptoms, plus 24 hours of being symptom-free. Recovered does not mean necessarily the person had to be hospitalized.

Knox County Health Department lists 203 probable cases of COVID-19 on the county website.

KCHD updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. Visit covid.knoxcountytn.gov for more information. Press briefings by Knox County Health Department have been moved to a Tuesday and Thursday schedule this week. Briefings begin at noon.

What to do when hosting service providers

Life is still happening despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and services — like plumbing, air conditioning, and cable maintenance — still need to be rendered. Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, gave some tips to keep yourself and service providers safe.

In her Thursday briefing Buchanan said protecting yourself begins before having workers over to your home.

“Ask the service provider to wear a mask before entering your home and during the entirety of their visit,” she said. “If you make this known prior their visit, the precedent is set and it reduces some of the potential awkwardness of having to ask when they arrive.

“You and anyone else who is home at the time of the visit should also wear a mask while they are working in your home. You can consider having spare masks to offer folks if they forgot.”

Appointments should also be rescheduled if someone in the household or the provider are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and 6 feet of distance or more should be observed during the visit. Buchanan also said surfaces should be cleaned before and after the visit.

Death determinations

Buchanan said the process of how a COVID-19 death is determined is made by medical professionals who were seeing the individual case. The Tennessee Department of Health, the local medical examiner’s office, the state medical examiner’s office and the hospital where the case is being treated are the only ones that make the determination as to a cause of death.

“The doctors who are seeing the patients are determining what’s the cause of death,” Buchanan said. “So we are reporting that information out. We do not have the details of those cases. That is being determined by medical professionals before we get that information.”

Buchanan said while older people and those with a chronic disease are the most susceptible to the virus, healthy and younger people are not immune to the virus.

“When we look at the severity of disease, it’s spread out across all ages,” We have 22-year-olds who end up going to the hospital because they get sick enough to need to go to the hospital.

Close contacts and quarantine

When a positive case is determined everyone in the household becomes a close contact and are asked to quarantine, Buchanan said.

Close contacts are required to quarantine for 14 days away from the positive case. The 14-day quarantine does not start until the last contact with the positive case and no one can test out of the quarantine. Buchanan said the positive case can isolate themselves in the home or stay elsewhere in isolation so that close contacts can start their quarantine period.

Close contacts are monitored by the county and state health departments and should stay home for the full 14 days.

“If any of those close contacts in the household turn into probable cases — they become symptomatic — they are then considered a probable case. They move into the probable case count,” she said. At that point, the probable cases have to undergo the same monitoring as a positive case.

Reviewing Knox County benchmarks

The Knox County Health Department released its benchmarks on Wednesday. Buchanan did a rundown to update the traffic lights noting that while the numbers are improving, there is still a long way to go.

“We are still seeing an average of 88 (new) cases per day,” she said. “The lower volume of new cases over the past 14 days is encouraging. We hope to see the lower volume of new cases turn into a downward trend, but in order for this to happen, everyone needs to continue following the five core actions everywhere they go.

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