As state and region see uptick in COVID-19 cases behavior of Tennesseans plays crucial role

Published 3:03 pm Friday, October 16, 2020

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Tennessee and the Northeast Tennessee region have seen an uptick in new coronavirus cases over the past week, which concerns health care providers as flu season approaches. Region-wide, trends of new COVID-19 cases are higher than they’ve ever been. Between both Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, the 14-day trend began spiking at the beginning of the month, coming to an all-time high on Thursday at about 190 new cases per day.
It reminds us that how we behave matters. Even though there is a sign that says “open” it doesn’t mean there isn’t a pandemic.
The behavior of Tennesseans during the pandemic has been praised by Gov. Bill Lee as being a reason for why the state has been able to reopen at the levels it has. However, the increase in positive tests in recent days also reflects the behaviors of Tennesseans.
COVID-19 is no respecter of persons or age. We have school-age children infected with the virus as well as people in all age groups. This week, Gov. Lee and his wife self-quarantined after being exposed to the virus.
Area-wide, Ballad Health is watching hospital capacity, ICU capacity and ventilator capacity to look for downstream consequences.
Tennessee is not alone in the uptick of new cases of COVID-19 as 33 states have reported a rise in new cases and a rise in hospitalizations. Officials worry this could be the beginning of the fall surge experts have warned about.
The potential for spread remains given the novel coronavirus is easily spread compared to other viruses, but it still needs a host. Given the vast majority of Tennesseans and Carter Countians have not been infected, those potentially shedding the virus are likely doing so around others who have not been affected. In Carter County, the number of infections reported by the state thus far is 1,208. Thirty-two deaths in the county have been linked to the virus.
The majority of people who get the virus have symptoms. However, some do not. This is a reason Tennesseans have to continue social distancing, practice proper hygiene, and wear masks. Cloth masks do have some filtering capabilities, but their main protection is to keep respiratory droplets from being dispersed by people who may have been exposed to the virus, but have no symptoms. For each new case, there has been a presymptomatic stage, so their behaviors during that stage is why wearing a mask even if you feel fine can play a crucial role in preventing spread.
It’s a tough concept for people who feel fine to grasp. The struggle in public health is getting people who feel well to engage in behaviors that protect others. It’s a big challenge, but is vital if we stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Make it a practice to weak a mask when you go out, and stay out of large crowds.

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