Coronavirus in Tennessee: 47 active Knox County cases; health director calls for ‘compassion’ from community

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department reported five new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, to bring the county’s total to 316.

Knox County reported 47 active cases on Tuesday, up from 45 active cases on Monday.

The total number of recovered cases remained grew to 264 from 261. 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.

A case breakdown by age range
Source: Knox County Health Dept.

There are no Knox County patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Of the 316 cases, 37 of them have resulted in hospitalization at any point during the illness and five deaths. There are four probable cases of COVID-19 listed on the county information page.

The Knox County Health Department updates its numbers daily at 11 a.m. Visit covid.knoxcountytn.gov for more information.

Call for compassion

Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the KCHD, called for compassion from all in the community during the department’s daily press briefing on Tuesday. Calling the COVID-19 pandemic “incredibly difficult,” Buchanan said she has heard from many who have expressed frustration.

“The pandemic has affected all of us,” she said. “None more so than the five families (in Knox County) who have lost loved ones. But it has affected us, our jobs, our families, our lives. These are scary, uncertain times, but we must never forget who we are or what we are as a community.

“If you are out and see someone with a mask and don’t agree with it, show compassion. If you are out and see someone without a mask, show compassion. If you are asked by a business to follow certain guidelines, show compassion.”

The warning comes as active cases have stayed relatively flat or lower over the last 14 days of the Knoxville-Knox County Task Force reopening plan. The first phase began on May 1. Phase two is on schedule to start May 28, adhering to the minimum time set by the task force.

“We get it,” she said. “We know it’s hard. We all want to believe it’s over, and we’re all ready to move on. But the fact remains it’s not over, the virus is not gone and the risk is still very real.”

‘Vote with your pocketbook’

Buchanan said reports of employees being required to ignore local and state reopening guidelines, as well as those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are unfortunate.

The Health Department relies on employers and owners to follow guidelines not just during a pandemic but every day. As part of the reopening plan, the department has a list of things employers and employees can do to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and offers signage to show the public they are in compliance.

An email newsletter has also been set up to give timely updates.

As for enforcing mask rules in a restaurant’s kitchen, Buchanan said the department was told by the state, who bestows the powers, that they do not have the authority to require a mask to be worn.

“If you want to send a message to those who are not following guidelines, vote with your pocketbook and choose not to patronized those locations,” Buchanan said. “The coronavirus is still circulating in our community, and you can’t tell by looking at someone whether they have the virus or not.”

Pool rules

Despite COVID-19 being a respiratory illness and not one shared through water, pools still present a problem in its spread.

“We don’t just swim,” Buchanan said. “We gather, we socialize, we eat, we touch, we horseplay. … Try to keep some kids away from each other in the pool when they are playing whatever they’re playing.”

State park pools remain closed in 89 of the 95 counties in the state. Knox County pools are also closed. No plans have been released as to when they might reopen.

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