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Knox County Health Department Issues Countywide COVID-19 Advisory

Submitted by Lori Moots-Clair, KCHD Administrator

Knox County is seeing a rise in both individuals requesting testing and those testing positive. The 7-day positivity noted by the state health department is 25%, which is a 37.1% increase over the preceding week. Locally, we have noted a 55% positivity rate on all antigen testing done through our facility. We were notified last week that the Delta variant was present in Knox County, which defined a problem we had felt would arise based on the cases around us.

Nationally the report is still that breakthrough cases with fully vaccinated individuals remains at less than 10%, locally we have noted higher numbers, but we are also disproportionately a community of those over 65 and those with high-risk conditions. The guidance continues to remain that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine but should mask for 14 days and/ or test at day 3-5 to assure they are not asymptomatically positive or have symptoms so mild that they are unaware its Covid. Vaccinated individuals can carry the virus to others, so should remain vigilant during times of high transmission.

*Staying home as much as possible (this may mean inside or outside).

*Conducting as much of your business as possible by phone, drive through or online.

*When eating out consider drive through, take out or curbside delivery.

*Maintain physical distance of a minimum of 6ft between you and all those outside your household, utilize phone and online methods when checking on high risk individuals.

*Wear face masks when in public places.

*Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands.

*Wash your hands multiple times a day.

*Carry hand sanitizer when access to handwashing is limited.

*Avoid gatherings of multiple households (ex. And at the holiday limit households and know who you are with).

*Postpone gatherings of multiple households (ex. Birthday parties/ celebrations/meetings).

*Get plenty of sleep.

*Pursue a healthy diet.

*Participate in physical activity.

*Stay home when you are sick.

*If symptomatic, consider testing for Covid-19.

Symptoms of Covid-19 may include any of the following:

•Cough, Shortness of Breath, Difficulty Breathing

•Fever or chills

•Headache or Muscle Aches.

•Nausea, Vomiting or Diarrhea

•New Loss of Taste or Smell

Locally we are seeing most cases present with a fever 100 or greater, headaches, diarrhea, and sinus type complaints.

If you are opposed to testing through the local health department or your healthcare providers, consider the use of over the county tests or free tests that may be ordered through the department of health and senior services. If you should test positive, you should remain isolated for 10 days from symptom onset (and should not run a fever in the last 24 hours of isolation). Currently if you are a first line contact of a positive case public health requests you self-quarantine for 7 days and get a test, or 10 days without a test, and avoid contact with anyone outside your household (essential workers should talk with their employers to see if there are protocols in place that allow for going to work, and those protocols should always involve mask wearing and distancing). Should symptoms arise, notify public health, and consider testing. Whether public health is involved in your case or not, there is an ethical obligation to avoid taking this condition to other unknowing individuals.

Anyone that is a positive case, or close contact of a positive case, should always notify ems, 911 and all other health care providers of Covid-19 status prior to service. Finally, confirmed, and probable Covid-19 cases should never try to “tough it out”. Make sure your health care providers are aware of your status, and at any time you feel uncomfortable with your status seek treatment. Although many will recover from Covid-19 without complication, we are beginning to see what those around the country and state have been seeing for months—this virus can be very hard on individuals, particularly with preexisting conditions and advanced age.

Finally, please be advised that the number of growing positive cases have exceeded our ability to complete follow-up with each case within the 12 -24-hour period we have been used to. Those who do not hear from us, should isolate (positive) and or quarantine (close contact) and reach out to our agency if you have not heard from us. There is a lag in reporting from state to state and with out of county tests due to the spike in testing levels and high level of positive results.

For more information regarding Covid-19 please reach out to the local health department at 660.397.3396.