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COVID-19 hits community spread mark in Sullivan County

J. H. Osborne • Mar 27, 2020 at 12:34 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Community spread is here.

As of noon Friday, Sullivan County Regional Health Department officials said the two most recent confirmed positive test results for the virus show community spread. That means the people who tested positive caught the virus locally by exposure from another person. Up until this point, all cases had been in people who had traveled outside the area, in some cases to high-risk areas, including internationally.

At a press conference just two days ago, local officials had cited Sullivan County as having only two cases, both travel-related. But on Friday, Sullivan County Regional Health Department Medical Director Stephen May confirmed the number of cases had increased to six — and the last two were from community spread.

Those who have tested positive have been isolated since their test results, May said, and health officials have begun tracking all their contacts going back to 48 hours prior to the time each first developed symptoms. That means the health department is attempting to document each patient’s movements and interactions during that time frame and track down people with whom they were in contact.

May said reaching the community spread benchmark means it’s even more important that everyone in the community adhere to social distancing guidelines, but stepping it up to “advanced social distancing.” May said that means anyone who has any symptoms related to potential COVID-19 exposure needs to self-isolate for at least a seven-day period — with the last three days being symptom-free. That means if your symptoms continue for seven days, you’d actually self-isolate for 10 days, or if your symptoms continue for 10 days, you’d self-isolate for 13 days, and so on.

For more information visit www.tn.gov/health.

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