Hamblen coroner reports county’s sixth death

Hamblen County coroner Eddie Davis confirmed Hamblen County’s second COVID-19 death in 24 hours, Sunday morning.

The victim, a 44-year-old Hispanic man, died Sunday morning. More details about the man’s identity were not released. Davis announced the county’s fifth COVID-19 victim, an elderly woman, died Saturday. The woman’s identity was not released.

Both victims had been hospitalized locally, Davis said.

The latest numbers from the Tennessee Health Department do not include the deaths. At last count, the state reported that Hamblen County – which had previously been identified as a hotspot – had 474 confirmed or probable cases and 507 positive tests. The state reports 6,757 negative test have been taken in the county and 235 recoveries.

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain, head of the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force, said the plan is to step up communications to get people to follow CDC recommended guidelines.

“We’re going to ramp up our efforts to communicate to the entire community the need to protect themselves to wear the masks, wash the hands and social distance,” Brittain said. “We want people to protect themselves.”

Brittain and several other area county mayors declined to mandate masks after Gov. Bill Lee granted the power to county mayors to do so. Sevier and Sullivan counties have mandated masks.

Lee has declined to issue a statewide mask declaration.

Lawmaker says he has COVID-19

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee state lawmaker says he has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Republican state Rep. Kent Calfee said on Facebook on Friday that both he and his wife have tested positive. The 71-year-old Kingston lawmaker said his wife is receiving treatment and he is self-isolating, though he is not experiencing symptoms.

Calfee said in a statement that he has told legislative administration in Nashville, “so they can take any additional precautions to maintain a safe working environment for all within the Cordell Hull Building,” where the Tennessee General Assembly meets.

The Tennessean reported that Calfee attended two days of Joint Government Operations Committee meetings last week. Just a few lawmakers on the 24-member committee wore masks, the newspaper reported.

Tennessee has reported more than 61,000 cases and at least 738 deaths from the virus.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.