Bradley County’s COVID-19 numbers remained steady, increasing by one Thursday to 84 total positive cases, but a cluster of 175 new cases in nearby Rhea County was announced.
Bradley County’s COVID-19 numbers increased by five Thursday to 89 total positive cases, but a cluster of 175 new cases in nearby Rhea County dominated the state's attention.
During Thursday’s COVID-19 media briefing, state epidemiologist Dr. John Dunn confirmed the jump from 13 cases reported in Rhea County on Wednesday. This brings Rhea's total count to 188 cases.
“We are aware of a cluster in Rhea County and it is related to a farm,” Dunn said. “We're working closely with the regional health department there, who is also very engaged at the farm level with the leadership and ownership there.
“We're working with our local partners to implement isolation and quarantine as appropriate, as we would with any other type of outbreak,” Dunn added.
The report came just one day after the county's cases dropped from 15 to 13. The location and name of the farm were not released.
The governor’s briefing also included updates on unemployment, the Tennessee National Guard’s efforts to help test Tennesseans for COVID-19, upcoming business openings as part of the Tennessee Pledge initiative to get the state’s economy moving again.
Lee said expanded testing efforts have “been core in helping Tennesseans” make decisions about their health.
“It is how it is we are able to reboot our economy and get people back to work” but safely, he said.
Lee said this month the state has tested the entire inmate population, provided voluntary free testing to public housing residents across the state, tested residents at Veterans homes, and continued to work with long-term care facilities to have all residents and staffers tested within the next few weeks. He said weekly testing is planned for nursing home staffers.
Lee also encouraged all Tennesseans who think they have any reason to need a test, to get one.
“They’re free, they’re available in your health department in every county,” he said, noting private testing labs are also offering services.
“It’s really important that Tennesseans continue to test,” to get back to work, Lee said.
Class of 2020
Lee acknowledged it is graduation season and introduced a social media hashtag that can be used to honor graduates: #classof2020tn
“We are proud of those graduates and their accomplishments,” he said.
Lee announced Thursday that he is relaxing some social distancing guidelines in the state, including allowing groups of up to 50 to take part in social and recreational activities. Previously, the state restricted gatherings to only 10 or fewer people.
This order addresses social gatherings such as festivals, fairs, parades, large parties, picnics, youth sporting events, and overnight summer camps.
Lee also emphasized the importance of social-distancing measures, which he credits for helping stop the spread of COVID-19. He said the reason Tennessee will now allow larger groups is because the state has done well with social distancing.
“We can lift restrictions and open our economy, but we can never forget that social distance continues to mitigate the spread of this virus, which still exists in our communities. It still exists in our state. It’s a public health threat, and we remember that,” Lee said. “As we go out, as we gather, as we do the things that we’re beginning to do, that we remember that social distancing is a part of the way that we can do this and address it safely.”
rates spike to new,
The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported Thursday that the preliminary seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for April was 14.7%. That represents an “unprecedented spike” of 11.4 percentage points when compared to March’s revised rate of 3.3%.
Dr. Jeff McCord, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, said more personnel are now available to process claims, bringing more expertise to those positions in order to process more unemployment claims more quickly.
In just eight weeks, the number of new unemployment claims in the state has skyrocketed to more than half a million.
“We have a historic unemployment rate of 14.7% in our state. It is the reason that we must stay committed to mitigating the spread of COVID, but we must stay committed to a reboot," Lee said.
Lee offers a
moment of silence
Lee also spoke about Memorial Day Weekend and for Tennesseans to take time to honor the lives lost in defense of their country. He said last weekend he and Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee delivered packages to children through A Soldier’s Child to five Gold Star families that “have lost a member through active duty.”
“It was poignant reminder to me and to Maria that the liberty and freedom we enjoy in this country come at a great cost,” Lee said.
He said Memorial Day is a time “for us to honor those who have in fact made our life in America possible.”
Lee noted four Tennesseans have died this year in service to their country, and asked for a moment of silence to remember them.
uptick, as well
Confirmed case totals for Bradley County neighbors include:
• Grundy: 31 cases, 26 recoveries and 1 death;
• Hamilton: 425 cases, 167 recoveries and 13 deaths;
• Marion: 35 cases, 25 recoveries and 1 death;
• McMinn: 124 cases, 90 recoveries and 12 deaths;
• Meigs: 22 cases, 19 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Monroe: 55 cases, 28 recoveries and 2 deaths;
• Polk: 14 cases, 12 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Rhea: 188 cases, 9 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Sequatchie: 10 cases, 9 recoveries and 0 deaths;
Counties with Tennessee's highest numbers of cases include:
• Bedford: 262 cases, 202 recoveries and 4 deaths;
• Bledsoe: 607 cases, 601 recoveries and 1 death;
• Davidson: 4,292 cases, 2,697 recoveries and 48 deaths;
• Knox: 321 cases, 283 recoveries and 5 deaths;
• Lake: 403 cases, 58 recoveries and 0 deaths;
• Madison: 162 cases, 148 recoveries and 2 deaths;
• Montgomery: 217 cases, 107 recoveries and 2 deaths;
• Putnam: 321 cases, 146 recoveries and 5 deaths;
• Rutherford: 930 cases, 420 recoveries and 20 deaths;
• Shelby: 4,033 cases, 2,712 recoveries and 91 deaths;
• Sumner: 778 cases, 361 recoveries and 42 deaths;
• Trousdale: 1,385 cases, 1,332 recoveries and 4 deaths;
• Williamson: 491 cases, 341 recoveries and 10 deaths; and
• Wilson: 344 cases, 220 recoveries and 8 deaths.
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