Greene County has two additional COVID-19 deaths and 69 new cases of the virus.
The two deaths and new cases were reported Tuesday as part of the daily coronavirus update from the Tennessee Department of Health.
The deaths bring the total number of people in the county who have died from the virus to 105 since the pandemic began. With the new cases, 6,391 people in Greene County have contracted the virus since last March.
Individuals with active cases of the virus locally now total 836, according to Tuesday’s report. Since March, 5,450 people are now defined as having inactive cases — either 14 days past a positive test or onset of symptoms without being hospitalized.
Greene County had the highest number of new cases in the 10-county region in Northeast Tennessee on Tuesday. Sullivan County had 62 new cases while Washington County had 52 on Tuesday, according to the state data.
The new cases for all 10 counties totaled 344. Across Tennessee, 3,478 new cases were reported on Tuesday. Since last March, 660,874 people have contracted the virus in the state.
The two local deaths were among the 16 reported for the region Tuesday. Statewide, 146 new deaths were reported from the virus, bringing the pandemic total to 8,011.
NURSING HOME CASESState data also indicates another local long-term facility has now had cases of COVID-19. Twenty-one of the 56 residents at Durham-Hensley Health and Rehabilitation Center in Chuckey have tested positive for the virus, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health. Two residents have died from the virus, the data indicates, and nine employees have contracted the virus. The last positive test for either a resident or staff member was recorded Jan. 2.
In the latest update about long-term care facilities, the state data indicates that Life Care Center of Greeneville has three residents and one employee who have tested positive for the virus in the past 30 days, and Signature Healthcare of Greeneville has two residents and seven employees who have tested positive for the virus in that time period. Two residents at Morning Pointe of Greeneville have contracted the virus in the past month as well.
Three people from Greene County were hospitalized for treatment of the virus in the 24 hours covered in Tuesday’s report from the Department of Health. Since last March, 154 people have required hospital treatment for the virus locally.
Currently, there are 339 patients being treated for COVID-19 within Ballad Health facilities, according to the system’s daily virus scorecard. Three people have been admitted with symptoms who were still awaiting test results and 55 designated beds for virus patients remain open with the system. Of the hospitalized patients, 73 are in intensive care units with 49 on ventilators.
The Veterans Administration reported Tuesday that there are 271 active cases now being treated through the James H. Quillen VA Healthcare Center at Mountain Home with 244 of those veterans, 20 employees, six veteran employees and one defined as other, a civilian admitted to the facility.
Since the pandemic began, 2,136 COVID-19 cases have been treated by the VA with 1,769 of those considered convalescent cases who are either post-hospital discharge or 14 days after their last positive test. There have been 96 deaths among the VA patients treated for the virus at Mountain Home.
The region’s positivity rate, which is an indication of how widespread the virus is, continues in the 30% range, although decreasing slightly to 30.6% on Tuesday, according to the daily COVID-19 scorecard from Ballad Health. The positivity rate for Greene County for the past seven days was 22.7%, according to state data.
Ballad Health continues to provide vaccines against the virus and has administered the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to 17,330 individuals in the region, according to the system.
A second required dose of the vaccines has been given to 5,969 people thus far by Ballad Health.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses for an individual to receive full protection. The two vaccines, the only ones approved for emergency use in the U.S. thus far, work similarly in training the body to recognize a protein on the exterior of the coronavirus and to produce antibodies to prevent infection if it is contracted.
According to the state, Greene County, as most counties in Northeast Tennessee, did not have any vaccine to distribute through the local health department on Tuesday as further supplies are awaited.
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 being administered by the Greene County Health Department from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center site on East Andrew Johnson Highway. No appointment is necessary.
At the Greene Valley testing site, self-testing kits will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to adults with results available online. Testing will be available for those under age 18 and adults who are not able to register online may receive the standard nasal swab tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Free self-swab tests are now available at the CVS Pharmacy location on the Asheville Highway for those who meet Centers for Disease Control qualifications. An appointment is required and can be made at CVS.com.
Ballad Health asks anyone concerned they may have the virus to call the system’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. Tests may also be scheduled using the Ballad Health app or on its website. Testing is taking place at Greeneville Community Hospital West at 401 Takoma Ave.
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.
A request to rezone property on Whitehouse Road to permit the most varied type of land uses did not obtain the recommendation of the Greeneville Regional Planning Commission on Tuesday.
Although the planning commission voted against recommending the change, the rezoning can still be considered for approval by the Greene County Commission, which has the final say in such requests for properties within the county. The request is for rezoning the property from A-1 agricultural use to M-2 heavy impact use.
While the property is not within the Greeneville corporate limits, it is within the town’s urban growth boundary. State regulations require that a rezoning request within a municipality’s urban growth boundary be considered for a recommendation by the planning commission of that town or city, with that advisory recommendation forwarded to the legislative body to make the final decision, in this case, the County Commission.
In looking at the request for the property, located near the northwestern end of the Greeneville Municipal Airport and using the town’s regulations as a guideline, the Planning and Building Department would not recommend the rezoning request due to three reasons, said Planning Director Randy Davenport.
First, a proposed use for the property has not been identified, which is typically included with a rezoning request, he said.
Secondly, the property does not adjoin any lots that are currently zoned M-2, and there has to be adjacent property with the desired zone for a rezoning request to be considered under town regulations, Davenport said. There are two properties nearby that are zoned M-2 and currently have business uses, but neither is adjacent to this parcel, he explained.
The last factor is that the M-2 zoning would permit a number of uses that could be detrimental to the future development of the airport, he said.
Larry Carter, who owns the property, asked the commission to consider giving a positive recommendation for a rezoning. He explained he is trying to sell the property and a M-2 zone would provide the greatest value for the land because of the options available for its use.
Building Official Bert Seay asked Carter if he would be open to another zone for the parcel since the property could not be used for residential development if it is zoned M-2. Carter said he had chosen the M-2 due to the use options, and he had already tried to sell the parcel as A-1, which would permit residential development.
In other business, the planning commission gave its approval for a rezoning that would involve applying an overlay zoning district of R-SF2 low density residential to property on Oak Grove Road. The rezoning request will now be forwarded to the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen for its consideration.
The overlay would not change the use of the property under its existing R-1 zoning for single family residences, Davenport explained, but would allow for more dense development on the 7.4-acre property near the intersection of Oak Grove Road and New Hope Road.
The R-SF2 overlay district would allow for slightly smaller lot sizes in the proposed development and slightly less would be required for setbacks, he said.
An adjacent property owner contacted the office to express concern about additional traffic due to future development, Davenport said.
Town Engineer and Director of Public Works Brad Peters told the commission it would be difficult to widen the road due to topography, but in his experience, people are typically more concerned with speed rather than traffic volume.
Controls can be put into place, such as speed bump, to limit speed of traffic if needed, Peters said.