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Local COVID cases expected to rise following holiday

Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Health officials are concerned that an already high level of community spread and hospitalizations in the region will continue to rise following travel related to Thanksgiving. Additionally, with testing suspended at state health departments on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, many people are expected to test this week, which means an anticipated increase in infections.   
              
On Monday, Ballad Health reported a record 260 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) inpatients across its facilities, increasing by 51 since Thanksgiving. For nearly nine months, COVID-19 has spread across the state of Tennessee. From the time the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) reported the first positive case in Johnson County in late March, residents have been kept abreast of
COVID related data and statistics.

Every afternoon, TDH releases a spreadsheet of information to let us know the severity of the situation.As of Monday, Johnson County has reported 1,449 overall cases, has had 43 hospitalizations and 23 deaths due to COVID-19. To date, the county has 8,007.2 cases per 100,000 residents. There were 2,897 active cases in Northeast Tennessee, with Johnson County having 79 active cases as of Monday afternoon. The TDH recently changed the definition of active cases to remove people 14 days after a positive test. Over 30 states saw increases in new daily COVID-19 cases before the Thanksgiving holiday, as the number of confirmed infections in the country soared past 13 million.

“Throughout the holidays, to best protect your family and friends, please wear a mask, practice social distancing, use good hand hygiene and avoid in-person gatherings outside of those in your immediate households,” said Carter and Johnson County Health Departments Director Caroline Hurt. 

Hurt emphasized that free COVID-19 testing is available at the Johnson County Health Department Monday through Friday, 12:00-3:00 pm. “No pre-registration is required, and you can remain in your car throughout the process.”

Visit the Tennessee Department of Health online at www.tn.gov/health. Local COVID-19 testing is available at the Johnson County Health Department. No referral and no appointment is required; however, you may call ahead and verify the testing center before traveling. 

The health department is located at 715 West Main Street, and the phone number is (423) 727-9731.