KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs released a statement Friday following the county health department’s COVID-19 briefing in which double-digit growth in cases was discussed.

Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, said the county has experienced “five red-level flags on five consecutive days” when it comes to sustained reduction or stability in new cases. While the increase has been expected as more businesses reopen and more people return to the workforce, the increase has been “very concerning,” according to Buchanan.

Mayor Jacobs Comments on Local COVID-19 Situation

“It is unrealistic, at this time, to believe COVID-19 could be stamped out completely so the goal must be to mitigate the damage the virus causes as it spreads.

We have seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Knox County and hospitalization numbers have gone up a bit, but we knew this was likely as we began to re-open, and people began moving around more. Thankfully, the number of deaths has held steady for weeks.

Nationally, more than 40% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred among residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care operations, so it is especially important that we keep these vulnerable populations safe. We must all take personal responsibility to practice good hygiene, be aware of physical distancing recommendations, wear a mask if necessary and, most importantly, stay home if we are sick.

I am aware other states are making moves to tighten restrictions as their case numbers go up, but the decision to move forward or backward in our phases is the board of health’s to make — not mine. It is also important to note, however, that the Knox County Law Department has opined Knox County should be aligned with or less restrictive than the Tennessee Pledge.

The board of health is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, July 1. There are no plans to convene the group before then. Requirements of the sunshine laws make that difficult to even consider on such short notice.”

Glenn Jacobs, mayor, Knox County