At the Lakeway Area continues to deal with the growing coronavirus crisis, three more cases were announced in the Lakeway Area Friday afternoon.
Hamblen County officials confirmed a second case, coming on the heels of the announcement of the first confirmed case in the earlier that morning.
Officials in Cocke and Greene counties also announced confirmed cases Friday afternoon.
“Today, Cocke County joins 17 other Tennessee counties in reporting a confirmed case of the COVID-19 strand of coronavirus. The identity of this person is kept confidential by the Tennessee Department of Health and local practitioners. I can say that the Tennessee Department of Health practices strict monitoring of every confirmed case in Tennessee and they will ensure that the confirmed citizen is following all the guidelines for quarantine,” Cocke County Mayor Crystal Ottinger said.
“While the travel, associations and social interactions of this citizen are investigated by local health officials, we encourage every Cocke County citizen and visitor to our area to follow all the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control in regard to handwashing and social distancing.”
Ottinger said that a COVID-19 Task Force has been in place and has monitored the local situation since March 4.
Newport mayor Roland “Trey” Dykes said the confirmed case means the community must take the situation seriously.
“Especially with our younger population, we need to make sure that parents understand that just because school is out doesn’t mean that kids should congregate in local places and still not practice social distancing.”
Cocke County Director of Schools Manney Moore and Newport Director of Schools Sandy Burchette said the decision has been made to keep Newport and Cocke County schools closed until at least April 13.
Hamblen County officials had previously announced the same.
The Greene County case was a student at Tusculum University.
“Tusculum University was notified Friday morning, March 20, that one of our students tested positive for the coronavirus. We immediately set in motion a plan instructing all nonessential personnel to begin working remotely. We are also telling all of our students who are on campus that we are closing the residence halls. We are notifying the health department of all campus members who have been in contact with the infected student so those individuals can be contacted by a health department official regarding next steps,” the college said in a statement.
“Tusculum University is committed to the well-being of all students, faculty and staff and will continue to be a resource for anyone who needs assistance. The university and classes will continue to function, and we will remain on track to finish the remainder of the spring semester.
Hospitals changing procedures
Working together with the Knox County Health Department, local area hospitals including Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova Healthcare and The University of Tennessee Medical Center as well as numerous other healthcare facilities have collaborated to address the evolving COVID-19 impact on the region.
Utilizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) standards and recommendations, area facilities will be temporarily ceasing non-essential adult procedures on Monday, March 23. East Tennessee Children’s Hospital is limiting certain non-essential pediatric procedures. Ultimately, hospitals will rely on providers to use clinical judgment and standards of care in determining when to complete a procedure.
Numbers continue to grow
The Tennessee Department of Health announced Saturday that the number of confirmed cases in Tennessee increased to more than 370.
The majority of the cases are located in Middle Tennessee, with Davidson and Williamson counties reporting the highest amount. However, Shelby County — where Memphis is located — has also seen a bump, with more than 40 cases reported as of Saturday.
On Friday, a 73-year-old man in Nashville with underlying health conditions became Tennessee’s first fatality linked to the new coronavirus.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For people with existing health problems and older adults, it can cause more severe illness requiring hospitalization.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
As Tennessee has experienced more confirmed cases of the virus, cities like Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga have limited restaurants to take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service. Most have ordered gyms to close.
All schools are closed at least until the end of the month, some plan on being closed later.
Pastor Luke Curry and church leaders of Young’s Temple AME Zion Church have elected to cancel all church services until further notice.
“I am very concerned about the health and wellness of our members. It is out of an extreme abundance of caution that we have taken such measures,” Curry said.
Also as a result of the latest updates on the COVID-19 situation, Newport Utilities has made the decision to close its lobby to foot traffic.
NU will tentatively schedule to reopen the lobby to foot traffic Monday, March 30.