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Roundup: UTMC Takes Part in COVID Treatment Project; Weekend Testing Focuses on Public Housing

File photo/NextCare.com

UT Medical Center participates in treatment trial

The University of Tennessee Medical Center is among more than 2,400 sites around the nation taking part in a trials to test the efficacy of using plasma to treat COVID-19 patients.

The plasma in the Mayo Clinic-led project is drawn from people who have already had the novel coronavirus and are thought to have developed antibodies necessary to fight the infection. UT Medical Center reports it has already treated its first patient, though results of the test have not been released.

Antibody infusions are being explored as a potential treatment option for severe COVID-19 cases. People who have recovered from COVID cases can donate their plasma to help the study.

Testing this weekend to focus on public housing residents

Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation and the Tennessee National Guard will team up Saturday and Sunday to test residents of public housing in Knoxville for COVID-19.

Saturday’s testing events will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will take place at Cagle Terrace, Isabella Towers and Five Points Infill Housing.

Testing at Love Towers, Northgate Terrace and Montgomery Village will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The public housing events are open to residents only, Knox County Health Department Director Martha Buchanan said. Testing is free of charge.

Testing for the general public is available through medical providers, many county health departments and some walk-in clinics.

Federal grant will aid Knoxville law enforcement

A $350,000 grant from the Department of Justice will help the city of Knoxville cover costs for public safety connected to COVID-19.

The city has wide latitude in spending the money, according to a press release from federal prosecutor Doug Overbey’s office. It can be applied to hiring personnel, paying overtime costs, purchasing protective gear and addressing inmates’ medical needs.

GSMNP visitation reflects closure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw its lowest April visitation numbers in four decades, according to figures released by the park Thursday.

March visitation was already significantly lower compared to previous years, and the closure left the park effectively deserted for April and the first week of May. GSMNP closed its gates to visitors March 24. At the time, the park said the honor system didn’t work. Some 30,000 people continued to stream into the park daily, tending to gather in popular spots such as Newfound Gap and Laurel Falls.

During the closure, Foothills Parkway in Blount County and a section of U.S. 441 in Sevier County called The Spur remained open for drivers. About 75,000 people drove the Foothills Parkway, but even that was a 38 percent drop compared to the same time last year.

The park began to re-open on May 9. The park’s visitation typically peaks in June, July and August. In a typical year, around 1.5 million people pass through the park each of those three summer months.