Monroe County Mayor urges public to help slow spread of COVID-19 following nursing home deaths

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MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Eleven residents at the Sweetwater Nursing and Rehabilitation Center have died due to COVID-19. Six residents, who also tested positive for the virus, are in the hospital. Twelve other residents are in isolation after contracting coronavirus.

In addition to the impacted residents and their families, six staff members are also quarantined with the virus at home. A statement, released to WATE 6 On Your Side Wednesday, noted residents and staff are tested routinely.

Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram reminded the public Wednesday to continue efforts to slow the spread of the novel virus, including mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. Given where we are in the year, Ingram also emphasized the importance of getting the flu vaccine.

Ingram reported 27 total COVID-19 related deaths in the county.

“It’s not just about data. We’re talking about real, live, people…it’s very unfortunate. One death is too much to this terrible virus,” he said.

He explained the loss, from the deaths of loved ones to the economic impact of the pandemic, is impacting everyone in Monroe County, himself included. Of the 27 people lost, Mayor Ingram knew at least five of them personally. He grew up around some of them, and even considered others mentors.

The mayor acknowledged the efforts of the medical care staff at their assisted living facilities.

“Those facilities have worked so hard for so long… since March,” he said. “We’ve seen some of our sister counties, neighboring counties, go through this and unfortunately, we’re facing it now.”

He noted no direct links to any specific events behind the hot spots around the county. Despite the unknowns, he remains optimistic.

“I believe our communities and our state and our country will actually be better after this,” he added. He did mention more cases popped up after the state lifted visitation restrictions on assisted living facilities.

There is no mask mandate in Monroe County. Ingram opted to trust in the business owners and people to make the right health choices. He said he does sees more people take part in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

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