KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan said the words many have been waiting to hear on Monday.

“We are trending downward,” she said at the department’s press briefing.

Buchanan said she and her staff will meet later Monday to discuss what phase two of the Knoxville-Knox County reopening plan will look like as the number of active COVID-19 cases in the county continues to gradually fall.

Over the last five days, the county has seen new case counts of minus 2, zero, one, two and three, respectively. The number of active cases is down from 69 on Thursday to 45 on Monday.

While Knox County has seen fewer cases than other metro areas in Tennessee, Buchanan still urged people to follow the five core principles of the reopening plan, like maintaining social distancing and washing your hands, to avoid an uptick in active COVID-19 cases. Buchanan pointed to Nashville’s increase of 600 cases in a week as a warning.

“I trust people to use common sense,” she said. “Don’t get too excited about the numbers. The numbers tell the story of where we are. They are very important, but they can change anytime.”

The metaphor of a marathon has been used in Knox County since the beginning of the pandemic. When asked where we were in the “race” Buchanan was not quite ready to give out a medal yet.

“I am not ready to say we hit the half marathon yet,” Buchanan said. “I think we are getting close though. I hope we are getting close, but time will tell.”

Plans for phase two should be coming later this week and next but are still dependent on all benchmarks being met.

“We are really at that point where we need to make a recommendation to the committee and the community as to what happens at phase two,” she said.