KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Health Department’s Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease and Emergency Preparedness broke down down the recent CDC isolation recommendations for those who are asymptomatic.

Roberta Sturm explained when CDC officials cut down the isolation time for that group from ten days to five it also came with new mask guidance. She said those who are asymptomatic are asked to wear a mask for five days following their five days of isolation.

She said these adjustments show our nation’s health leaders are staying up to date with the latest research.

“We have to be open to doing the best with the science that we have, the knowledge that we have, and what we’ve learned,” said Sturm. “It’s a continual process of evaluation and research to make these decisions that are ethical and appropriate.”

She also spoke Tuesday about the increase in testing in the days leading up to the Christmas holiday, saying it could also be a sign of what’s to come.

“That’s great, that’s what we really want people to do is if they’re not feeling well to go get tested,” said Roberta Strum. “That means they have an opportunity to protect their loved ones, but also, that is an indication that we could be seeing some more illness.”

Lastly, Sturm took time to explain the lag in reporting the death toll for Knox County, as it’s different than what the Tennessee Department of Health is reporting. As of December 28, KCHD reports 999 deaths while the State Department of Health reports 1,063 deaths.

She said it all comes back to the backlog of deaths reported from the state last week. Once the state is updated, Sturm said the epidemiology team confirms those findings. She added the process of verifying those numbers coupled with the holidays could mean a lag in updating the death toll on the KCHD dashboard.

“Those normal reporting channels are also coming off of a holiday, so even though we didn’t see that update today, I expect the week or the next coming weeks that we’re going to be working through those numbers and getting our numbers up to date to match what the Tennessee Department of Health has,” she said. “It just takes us a little bit of time to work through those.”