Greene County has three more cases of COVID-19 and the Town of Greeneville is considering returning to Phase I of its reopening plan next week.
Meanwhile, a county office will reopen today after its employees tested negative for the virus.
The number of coronavirus cases in the county since the pandemic began reached 117 on Tuesday, three more than Monday, according to a daily report from the Tennessee Department of Health.
Active cases within the county remain at 37 as three more people are listed as recovered in Monday’s report, counterbalancing the new cases. The report lists 78 people as recovered from COVID-19.
With the highest daily jumps for Greene County recorded in the past 10 days, City Administrator Todd Smith told the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday that returning to Phase 1 of the town’s reopening plan is being considered.
“Do not be surprised if we return to Phase I next week,” he said. In a return to Phase i, measures would be taken to limit contact including closing town offices to the public and rotating employees to work at home.
Services continue to be provided, he said, with the public asked to call or do their business electronically. Parks will remain open, but playgrounds and basketball courts will be closed.
One Greene County office, the Register of Deeds, reopened for business Wednesday after all its employees were tested for the virus. Those employees are among the 4,116 Greene Countians who have had negative test results for the virus.
That office in the Greene County Courthouse Annex reopened at 8 a.m. and will be open regular hours, according to Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison.
The employees were tested after their department head, Register of Deeds Joy Rader Nunnally, tested positive for the virus after returning from a trip to Texas.
The office has been closed since July 2.
In addition, the office has been cleaned and sanitized, along with common areas inside the Annex, according to Morrison.
Statewide, 1,359 new cases of the virus were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of COVID cases in Tennessee since the pandemic started to 53,514. The state lists 31,827 as recovered. There are 21,687 active cases in the state.
Tennessee recorded 12 new deaths Tuesday, increasing the total to 665. Two people have died from the virus in Greene County since the pandemic began.
Elsewhere in the state, as Nashville’s coronavirus cases continue to surge, a city official on Tuesday called on the mayors of surrounding counties to require masks in public, saying the problem needs to be addressed regionally.
Nashville issued a mask order June 29, but surrounding counties, which don’t have their own health departments, were not allowed to issue their own orders until Friday, when Gov. Bill Lee granted them that power.
Meanwhile, two rural Tennessee counties were recording the highest case rates in the country Tuesday, according to data complied by The Associated Press. Trousdale County had 1,498 cases out of a population of 9,573. The county houses a state prison and that had a large outbreak in early May, but Tennessee Department of Correction spokesperson Dorinda Carter said there were only two active cases at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center as of Tuesday.
Lake County had 694 positive cases out of a population of 7,526.
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.
Tests are administered from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday at the Greene County Health Department. No appointment is necessary, but it is recommended that individual call 423-979-4689 to register to speed up the testing process on site.
Anyone concerned they may have the virus can call Ballad Health’s Nurse Connect line at 833-822-5523 to be scheduled for testing at the individual’s nearest testing site. The line is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Testing is taking place at Greeneville Community Hospital East.
Those who need to speak to someone about mental and emotional challenges the coronavirus may be causing can call Frontier Health’s 24-hour crisis line at 877-928-9062, Tennessee’s 24-hour crisis line at 855-274-7471, or the federal mental health services help line at 1-800-985-5990.