The Tennessee Department of Health reported 19 new COVID-19 cases and one death in Greene County on Tuesday.
The death is the 66th of a Greene County resident from the virus since the pandemic began.
Ballad Health reported a positivity rate in the region of 19.2% the highest so far. That rate reflects the percentage of positive tests among all tests conducted in Ballad Health’s service area for the past seven days.
That percentage surpasses the 18.3% reported Monday, which was also the highest rate reported at the time Monday’s COVID-19 Scorecard from Ballad Health was released.
There are 349 active cases in Greene County, according to the state.
As 52 local cases were moved Tuesday to the inactive/recovered category, the number of active cases fell by 34 from Monday’s number.
Cases are considered inactive/recovered once the onset of symptoms, or positive test if asymptomatic, passes 14 days. In Greene County a total of 2,176 cases are inactive/recovered, according to Tuesday’s data from the state.
According to the public notification posted to the Greeneville City Schools website, updated each week on Monday, the district has three staff members and 14 students in isolation following a positive test result.
Two of those staff members work at Hal Henard Elementary School, while the third works at Greeneville Middle School. Two of the students in isolation attend EastView Elementary, one goes to Highland Elementary, one goes to Hal Henard Elementary, two go to Tusculum View Elementary, three go to Greeneville Middle and five go to Greeneville High.
The city school system’s notification also includes 16 employees and 46 students in quarantine after being identified as a close contact to a positive case.
Of those employees there are three each at Hal Henard, Tusculum View and Greeneville High. Four of the quarantined employees work at Greeneville Middle, and the remaining three work at EastView Elementary, Highland Elementary and the Greene Technology Center.
Seventeen of the quarantined students go to Hal Henard, 19 go to Greeneville Middle, three go to EastView, two to Highland, two to Tusculum View and three to Greeneville High School.
The public notification for Greene County Schools, updated for the week of Nov. 7-13, includes seven employees and 17 students in isolation. It also includes 54 staff members and 593 students in quarantine.
The notification from Greene County Schools does not provide details as to which schools have students or staff out due to isolation or quarantine.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,591 local cases of the virus.
No new Greene County hospitalizations since Monday were reported by the state on Tuesday. Since the pandemic began, 112 Greene County residents have required hospital care due to the virus.
According to Tuesday’s Ballad Health COVID-19 Scorecard, hospitalizations across Ballad Health’s service area reached a new peak Tuesday of 253, surpassing the peak recorded Monday of 247.
Seven people are in Ballad Health facilities with COVID-19 symptoms awaiting test results.
Forty-six patients are in intensive care units in Ballad Health hospitals, and 28 of those are on ventilators.
“Throughout Tennessee, COVID patients account for 20% of all inpatient beds and 30% of all ICU beds,” state Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said Tuesday. “Their ability to maintain available beds for all conditions, not just COVID, is not unlimited.”
Piercey said the state’s medical staffers are becoming overextended, but noted a recent executive order allowing medical staffers more flexibility to address hospital capacity strain was helping the situation.
Tuesday’s data from the state also included 48 new cases in Washington County, 12 in Sullivan County and 15 in Carter County.
Cases in Hamblen County were revised down one on Tuesday.
Statewide 1,841 new cases and 72 deaths were reported by the Department of Health on Tuesday. Since the pandemic began, Tennessee has had 320,729 COVID-19 cases and 3,995 people have died from it.
More than 246,000 people have died from the virus nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee told reporters Tuesday he has no plans to hand down a statewide mask mandate or business restrictions ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Let me just say, we’re not going to mandate how a family gathers at Thanksgiving. I want to be real clear about that,” Lee said during his weekly virus news briefing. “But what we will do is encourage Tennesseans to think hard about that.”
Lee said urging the public to take personal responsibility is a better approach than issuing a statewide mandate.
“Wearing a mask is one of the most important personal decisions that people can make. I do believe that we have a strategy in this state to get heroes to encourage people to wear a mask,” Lee said.
Lee noted he would not hold his annual large family dinner for Thanksgiving amid concerns over the virus’s spread. However, the governor defended holding a campaign fundraiser earlier this week where he was photographed not wearing a mask at times.
“Every gathering is different,” Lee said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.