Hamblen Task Force discusses outreach to Hispanic community

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said Monday he would extend the county mask mandate if the governor extends his order as well, allowing county mayors to use their discretion issuing such orders.

“If the governor extends the order, I’ll extend it another 30 days,” Brittain said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued an order in July allowing county mayors to be able to issue mask mandates within their counties. Brittain decided to issue a mask mandate on Aug. 4. Since then, the number of positive tests for COVID-19 decreased even as the state changed the way it reports data on coronavirus cases.

But the number of active and new cases have been trending up over the last two weeks, state data shows.

“We’ve had an uptick,” said Sherrie Montgomery, director of the Hamblen County Health Department.

There were 148 active cases of COVID-19 reported Sunday by the state. One week ago, there were 91 active cases and at the lowest point on Sept. 12 there were 56 cases reported.

Over the last two weeks, the number of new cases have increased to 12.8 per day compared to 7.9 cases per day the two weeks prior.

Over the last week, state records show that number jumps to 22.7 new cases per day. That is still lower when the county hit its peak at the end of July when the seven-day average was around 51 cases per day.

The Hamblen County school system opened a little more than three weeks ago and Montgomery said with people gathering that would mean cases would go up.

“I think we have to consider that a factor,” she said.

There have been a total of 26 students and staff to test positive in Hamblen County schools over the past two weeks, school records show.

But, Brittain said other factors should be considered as well with other groups of people throughout the county also gathering.

“It just shows we have to be on guard,” he said.

He said people need to keep practicing the basics of keeping others safe such as wearing a mask, washing their hands thoroughly and social distancing.

He said until there’s a vaccine, there’s not much else that can be done.

“This is a marathon,” he said. “Not a sprint.”