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Roundup: Opening Weekend of Phased Re-Opening Brings Mixed Bag

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Residents register concerns about business re-opening violations

The Knox County Health Department says it received sixteen complaints about potential violations of the county’s phased re-opening plan last weekend. Knoxville’s 311 information line received nine complaints.

“Anecdotally, we’ve heard positive stories about people continuing to wear masks and observ[ing] physical distancing guidelines in this situations,” KCHD infectious disease specialist Charity Menefee said at a Monday briefing. “This is our new normal, and we are urging people to continue to be vigilant to slow the spread of this disease.”

But Menefee said health department staffers saw many people ignoring mask recommendations.

“We want to go back to the reason behind wearing the mask. It’s to protect each other,” Menefee said, pointing out there is an unknown number of people who carry COVID-19 but feel no symptoms and therefore may think they are disease-free.

KCHD director Dr. Martha Buchanan told WUOT News reaction from business owners to the re-opening strategy has been a “mixed bag,” with some businesses more cautious and others antsy to get back to what was considered normal before the pandemic. Menefee said health department staff are following up with business owners who may have violated the rules of the re-opening plan. Suspected business violations can be reported to 311 (within the city of Knoxville) and the Knox County Health Department (Farragut and unincorporated Knox County).

Additional waves of infection expected

In the same press briefing Monday, KCHD infectious disease specialist Charity Menefee said health officials will be watching for a resurgence of COVID-19 cases through the remainder of the year.

“We expect there to be waves. There typically are with these types of illnesses,” Menefee said. “Exactly when ours will be, we don’t really know.”

Menefee said that’s why following the “core principles” is important for reducing the risks and severity of the waves yet to come.

The five principles are: practicing physical distancing, wearing a mask when in public and/or a crowded place, washing hands thoroughly, regularly cleaning surfaces, and staying home when sick.

Outbreak at Middle TN poultry plant grows

298 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at a Tyson plant near Nashville, state health officials reported.

Representatives of the Metro Nashville and Tennessee departments of public health and the CDC have visited the plant in Goodlettsville and said plant managers are following the right steps to prevent further spread, such as cleaning work areas and break rooms. State health commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the challenge is that meant-packing plants are typically very close quarters, an environment that aids the spread of communicable diseases.

The plant process and packages beef and pork products.

Athens nursing home update

Two more residents of a McMinn County nursing home died recently, bringing to four the number of deaths in a COVID-19 cluster.

72 residents at Life Care Center of Athens – close to three-quarters of the residents – and 42 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19. Additional staff are being pulled in from other nursing facilities owned by the same company.

UT cancels summer athletics camps

The University of Tennessee said Monday summer sports camps for young people have been cancelled through the end of July.

The decision follows Southeastern Conference (SEC) recommendations for handling in-person athletic events. The News Sentinel reports the annual summer sports camps bring in a little more than a million dollars in revenue, and help pay salaries of otherwise unpaid assistant coaches and athletic department staffers.

As of Tuesday morning, three baseball camps slated for August were still on the calendar.