Rhea County tracing what is causing their Covid-19 explosion

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DAYTON, Tennessee (WDEF) – Rhea County has shot from one of the lowest Covid-19 positive test communities in our region to one of the highest… just in one day.

The county had seen a handful of new cases this week.

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But on Thursday, the state reported a jump from 13 cases to 188.

County Executive George Thacker warned the community last night that a huge jump in cases was coming.

Of course, everyone is trying to figure out where the cases are coming from.

Thacker didn’t have enough to make a public statement earlier today.

But Rhea County surgeon Dr. Craig Swafford is offering some guidance.

He says “a large number of migrant workers have tested positive for the virus. We have communicated as the local hospital and the county government with this particular farm and have been assured that these folks have been isolated and will remain so.”

Dr. Swafford also notes that there has been at least one confirmed case at the Lazyboy plant.  That victim spent two days in ICU but is recovering.

“Contact tracing has been done within the factory and additional testing has been recommended steps have been taken to clean the workspace and minimize any additional exposure there and additional testing has been offered.”

And he says there has been a confirmed case of a doctor working at a senior care facility. That person was wearing personal protective equipment.

“Anyone that was exposed to the physician has been identified and additional testing has been recommended for residents and employees that came in contact with the physician. The physician is now quarantined and will not return to work for an extended period of time.”

Rhea County had the most new cases reported today anywhere in the state of Tennessee, more than Memphis, Nashville or Chattanooga.

And the county now has the 17th highest tally in the state.

The current rankings in our region are:

Bledsoe    607 Confirmed,  New 0,  1 Death

Hamilton    487 Confirmed,  New 40, 13 Deaths

Rhea        188 Confirmed,  New 175,  0 Deaths

McMinn    124 Confirmed,  New -1,  12 Deaths

Bledsoe can trace their outbreak to one huge cluster at a state prison and McMinn had a cluster at senior nursing facility.  You can see Hamilton’s new numbers here.

The County Executive is worried about his community getting out over a holiday weekend.

He told us today “I really think what we have to do right now, is really seriously wear a mask. We don’t have six or seven (cases) out there. We have to take this seriously!”

Rhea County was actually the last one in our area to get a Covid-19 case.