Coronavirus testing procedures in Hamblen County are changing, according to Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney.
Chesney announced Thursday that the Health Department will give coronavirus tests, upon request at the department’s facility on West Main Street.
A person does not have to display symptoms or prove exposure to get a test. Chesney said anyone who wishes to be tested can be. Previously, county officials followed Center for Disease Control guidelines and those tested had to meet certain criteria.
Sherrie Montgomery, county director of the Jefferson and Hamblen county health departments, also announced the Hamblen County Health Department is expanding COVID-19 testing times.
The health department will be open on Friday, April 10, Saturday April 11, and Saturday April 18, from the hours of 9 a.m.to noon to offer COVID-19 testing services.
Appointments are required. Call 423-586-6431; hit “0” when prompted.
Chesney said it appears local efforts to social distance and shut large events down appears to be helping.
“I think our response is keeping things better than they would be otherwise,” he said.
County Mayor Bill Brittain added that though the state’s projections are improving, it is not time for the community to relax.
“We’ve got to, as a community, pay attention to our exposure to the virus. It’s too important to our families and our community and our future really, both personally and economically, that we all stay vigilant,” Brittain said, adding he encourages those who must go out to wear masks, even cloth ones which can help a little.”
As of Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern, state officials indicated Hamblen County had four “confirmed” cases of COVID-19 and had tested 171 individuals. Hawkins County is listed as having 18 “confirmed” cases and having tested 127 individuals. Hawkins County is listed as having a single death. Hamblen is listed as having none.
Chesney said those numbers likely don’t tell the whole story.
“When questioning accuracy of state numbers on how many positive tests there are per county, remember the residence of the infected person is where that count goes,” he said, “Same if a death occurs. It is also not exact how many tests are given because there are tests given by private physicians. Positive tests are reportable.”
Hamblen County Task Force officials also noted the Covenant Health, which owns Morristown Hamblen Healthcare System, has changed testing vendors and lag time on tests has been reduced from up to two weeks to 24 to 48 hours.