Hamblen County COVID-19 Task Force

As COVID-19 cases rise in Hamblen County, a member of the Hamblen County COVID-19 Task Force said Wednesday that most of those who have tested positive are asymptomatic.

David Purkey, former state Commissioner of the Department of Safety & Homeland Security and Hamblen County mayor, said he knows there are a few small “clusters” of cases in the county, but most are spread out.

Purkey said the cases may rise, but there’s no reason to be concerned at this time, but residents should continue to practice responsible social distancing.

“We don’t have anyone hospitalized,” he said.

There are currently 14 active cases in Hamblen County.

Within a week, there has been a rise of 17 new cases in Hamblen County. Eight people also recovered during that time frame.

State records also show that Hamblen County is conducting more tests than any other county within the Lakeway Area. The amount of negative tests, which don’t include private medical practice records, show that Hamblen County had more than 2,600 negative tests.

In comparison, Greene County has had a little more than 2,400 negative tests and Jefferson County has had more than 2,300 tests come back negative.

If the spike keeps continuing, Purkey is positive the county has a plan to deal with any rises.

“It’s not something the task force isn’t prepared for,” he said.

When the county first formed the task force in February several steps were put in place to deal with any potential spikes of cases, especially those who required hospitalization or ventilators.

The task force has members of all major health organizations in the area, as well as emergency personnel. One step taken was to designate the old Morristown Utility building as an emergency operations center if the need arises.

But Purkey said he hopes that never happens.

“We hope to see the cases go down, that’s the goal,” he said.

He said he doesn’t know if the rise in cases represents a small uptick or more to come later.

“I don’t think anyone knows,” he said.

The cases are rising as businesses have reopened after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s Safer at Home order expired at the end of April.

With the summer months ahead, more people are getting out.

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain, who heads the task force, said people need to be extra careful while going out. He said masks should be worn and stay six feet apart for social distancing.

“I think there’s individual choice,” he said. “We have to take care of ourselves, our family. When you do that, you can take care of each other.”