When it comes to COVID-19, the state of Tennessee now considers Hamblen County a “hotspot.”

Dr. Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the state’s Department of Health, was delivering an update on the state’s coronavirus situation during the Gov. Bill Lee’s press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Piercey said the state’s new cases are starting to develop in “hot spots.” She said the state’s unified command group had been discussing developing a hot spot plan.

 “You’ll probably remember we did that in Hamilton County and Sevier County in the last couple of weeks when we saw increases there. Obviously that work continues,” she said. “Most recently we’ve seen increases in Wilson and Hamblen counties and we’ll start developing plans for those spots.

“The good news is that our hospitalizations and deaths have remained stable in the context of a modest increase in case counts.”

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain, chair of the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force, said the group is concerned about the rise in cases. Brittain said Hamblen County’s testing program is aggressive and identifying more cases than areas that aren’t testing as aggressively.

“Our focus as the task force is how severe are the cases,” he said. “It’s not all about the total cases. It’s about how severe the cases are. We’re making sure our health systems are not stressed.”

Brittain said the county’s health system is not overly stressed, adding there are currently four COVID-related hospitalizations in the county.

In addition, he noted the state is funding a testing team for the health department and paying for testing in the Hamblen County Jail which suffered an outbreak last week in the workhouse. 

Finally, Brittain urged residents to take the coronavirus threat seriously, to practice social distancing and to wear a mask in public.