Another day has brought a new case of coronavirus confirmed in Greene County.
There are now eight cases of the illness, also known as COVID-19, in the county, according to Thursday's daily update about the coronavirus provided by the Tennessee Department of Health every afternoon.
The COVID-19 count has doubled since the weekend. Three of Greene County's cases have been confirmed to be Tusculum University students. The university indicated Tuesday that it had been informed that five students have been confirmed to have the virus. It is not clear whether all five are part of Greene County's count on the state website.
One neighboring county, Unicoi, recorded its first confirmed case in Thursday's statistics. The state information also indicated that both Sullivan and Washington counties have two new cases. Sulivan now has four total and Washington, nine.
Cases statewide have jumped from 784 to 957 statewide since Wednesday, according to the Health Department's update.
A new addition to Thursday's report is the number of hospitalizations across the state due to the virus. According to the update, 76 people have been hospitalized in Tennessee due to COVID-19. The state notes that this number is all the people who have ever been hospitalized but does not indicate those currently hospitalized.
The number of people who have died due to the virus statewide remains at three, according to the state.
Health officials have indicated there are now indications of community spread of the virus within the region. They have defined community spread as cases in which the person has not traveled or been in contact with a person who has been confirmed with the illness.
“We are at a point in the region that we can act to slow down the spread or we can accelerate it,” said Ballad Health Executive Chairman, President and CEO Alan Levine in a media briefing Thursday. “People ask ‘what can I do?’ Obviously the most important thing to do is to stay at home if you don’t need to be out."
Gov. Bill Lee said in a conference call with newspapers across the state on Thursday that how much COVID-19 spreads depends on individual Tennesseans. "Individuals' actions and behavior matter," he said, encouraging people to follow guidance about frequent hand washing and physical distancing.
The Tennessee Health Department site also indicates that the largest number of confirmed cases are within the 21-30 age group. Ballad Health officials encourage individuals in that age group to take precautions.
Most people who contract COVID-19 will become only mildly or moderately ill, according to health experts. However, for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, it can cause serious illness and can be fatal.
Ballad Health asks anyone concerned they may have the virus to call the system’s Nurse Connect line at (833) 822-5523 to be screened for possible testing. The line is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Levine said that 7,500 calls have been received to the Nurse Connect line.