Health officials say coronavirus now community spreading

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Hamilton County health officials say the coronavirus has jumped to community transmission.

They reported seven more positive tests on Tuesday, bringing the total in Hamilton County to 15.

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But for the first time, health officials say they cannot trace the source for some of the people who got the virus.

That means it is now being spread in the community at large.. person to person.

The tests in Hamilton County are skewing older than the state numbers.

Eight of the cases are between the years of 30-59 while the other seven are 60 or older.

Twice as many men have tested positive as women and all of the victims so far have been white.

“We know the announcement of community spread is unsettling to our residents,” says Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes, “However, this makes it extremely important that people of all ages and backgrounds continue to stay at home, do not have house guests or play dates, and practice strict social distancing.”

They say that “community spread” tells us that more people have COVID-19 now than the testing shows.

So they are asking for each of us to re-double our efforts to stay quarantined.

Stricter social distancing means:

  • Limit supply runs to groceries, medicine, or essential items.
  • When in public places, such as the grocery store or public parks, keep at least 6 feet distance from people.
  • Businesses should heed the executive orders issued by state and local governments.

And, of course, wash your hands thoroughly, avoid sick people, avoid touching your face, cover your cough or sneezes and clean, clean, clean.

Officials today said they still are not ready to deploy remote or drive testing yet.

They are still gathering medical supplies to do it, particularly protective gear for the needed healthcare workers.

Health Department officials were not ready today to name either time or a place for any remote testing.

Emergency Management spokesperson Amy Maxwell concluded, “If everybody continues to comply, even though it is very difficult to do, the more that people comply, the more quicker we can get back to our sense of normalcy and that’s all we’re trying to do.”

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