Officials urge locals to take precautions as COVID cases rise

The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing in Hamblen County slightly and local officials are urging people to take precautions as the number of active cases tick up.

In two days, the number of active cases within the county have gone from 33 to 46 total active cases, records show.

“Those aren’t alarming numbers, but we know how it can grow and we know how to stop it,” Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said.

The numbers grow as experts say the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 is starting to spread. Health officials have said the new strain of coronavirus will likely become the leading strain of the virus. All 50 states are currently seeing spikes of the virus with major spikes occurring in Missouri and Arkansas.

Health officials have said in the past week that almost 99.5% of deaths within the United States have been those who have not yet been vaccinated.

State records show Hamblen County has almost 33% of its population who has received at least one dose of a vaccination and 30% who have received two doses.

This trails behind other counties in the Lakeway Area, who all have higher vaccination rates except Hancock County. Both Cocke and Jefferson counties have more than 40% of its population with at least one dose of vaccination.

“Some of us may be getting a little lax in protecting ourselves and those around us and we have to remember that it’s not gone away,” Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said.

He said the health department is making attempts to try and make sure there is easy access to vaccinations. Most stores with pharmacies across the Lakeway Area are also offering free vaccinations. But, the amount of vaccinations have dwindled the past several weeks.

“If someone wants to be vaccinated, it’s there,” Brittain said.

State records show that in Hamblen County there has been a rise. The daily case rate for Hamblen County is around 5.5 cases per day for the last two weeks. In the two previous prior weeks, the daily case rate has been around two cases per day.

In the last seven days, the daily case rate has been 7.3 cases per day.

Chesney said people need to listen to their doctor’s advice about vaccinations. He said he knows there are some reasons for people not to get vaccinated.

“We just encourage people, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, get vaccinated,” he said. “It’s that simple.”