Hamilton County on Thursday reported 73 more positive COVID-19 cases. That brings the total of confirmed cases in the county since the virus broke out in March to 843.
There are still 13 coronavirus patients in Intensive Care in Chattanooga hospitals.
Deaths remain at 15.
Officials said of the 71 new cases, the Hispanic population accounts for 49 cases. Of the total cases to date, Hispanics make up 65 percent of the total positive cases.
The Health Department said, "In recognition of this vulnerable population, the Health Department has and continues to conduct significant efforts to test, educate, and prevent further spread of COVID-19."
“Health Department staff are working very hard to reach and protect vulnerable populations that are disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” said Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes, “People are coming for testing so the message is reaching them.”
According to the CDC, “vulnerable populations” include those who have difficulty communicating (e.g., language barriers or speech and hearing impaired), accessing medical care, maintaining independence, or in accessing transportation.
Some of the Health Department efforts to reach and protect vulnerable populations are:
· Collaborating with organizations in the area that have strong existing ties with Hispanic communities, such as LaPaz and Clinica Medicos.
· Creating a Spanish Facebook page and posting videos with testing and prevention information in Spanish.
· Opening COVID-19 testing sites near neighborhoods with high density of Hispanic homes.
· Sending Spanish messages through the Hamilton County Department of Education school alert system.
· Hiring 12 bilingual teachers to add to their 48 bilingual staff that assist with case investigations and contact tracing.
· Delivering boxes of free masks, as well as educational materials and signs, to businesses frequented or owned by Spanish speaking residents.
· Engaging with Spanish speaking faith-based leaders and business owners via Zoom video sessions to answer questions and provide information.
· Providing Spanish interpreted summaries of Health Department press briefings.
· Ensuring bilingual staff are available at all Health Department COVID-19 testing sites for ease of services.
The 71 most recent cases, regardless of ethnicity, are distributed over zip codes 37407 (23), 37412 (11), 37404 (8), 37343, 37363, and 37415 with 5 each, 37421 (4), 37411 (3), with the remaining zip codes being 1 or 0 of the new cases. For the total number of cases within all zip codes, readers can view the COVID-19 zip code map here.
Until recently, whites were the most affected population group, currently at 40 percent of the total cases, while blacks represent eight percent, Asians one percent, with Other or Not Yet Determined.
Health Department testing this week was two of the four new sites, East Lake Academy School and Hardy Elementary School. On Tuesday, 435 people were tested at these two sites, 39 were positive, yielding an 8.9% positive rate. Of the 39 positives, 20 were Hispanic, 11 unknown race/ethnicity, and 8 were non-Hispanic. Twenty-eight people identified as white and 1 as black. Males made up 12 of the positive cases, with 27 positive females.
All demographic data relating to COVID-19 testing of Hamilton County residents can be found on their website.
Officials said, "While the current trend may show the Hispanic population is one of the most vulnerable, all persons are at risk of being infected by the COVID-19 respiratory disease. It is vitally important that everyone wear a mask in public places, adhere to the Tennessee Pledge guidelines for their specific business or organization, and continue practicing social distancing. Frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing is still some of the best protection."
Free Health Department drive-up or walk-up testing is now located at East Lake Academy School, Hardy Elementary School, Brainerd High School, and Orchard Knob Elementary School on a rotating basis, including weekends, and the complete schedule can be found here.
For questions or information about COVID-19 in Hamilton County, call the Health Department’s hotline at (423) 209-8383.
Nashville added 79 more cases in the last 24 hours - bringing the total to 5,147. Deaths remain at 58.
There are 4,703 confirmed coronavirus cases in Shelby County - up from 4,615. Deaths remain at 105.
Knox County remains at five deaths and it has 357 cases - up one.
Tennessee now has 356 coronavirus deaths - up by three since the Wednesday report.
There were 373 new cases, bringing the total to 21,679.
There were 42 more hospitalizations for a total of 1,689.
Bledsoe County is at 608 cases with one coronavirus death. Almost all the cases are from Bledsoe County Correctional Complex at Pikeville.
Bradley County is up to 108 cases - three more - with one death.
Rhea County jumped from 13 cases to 188 related to an outbreak among migrant workers at a farm. It is now at 198.
Marion County is at 38 cases. It has recorded one death. Sequatchie County is at 15 cases. Grundy County is at 32 cases with one death. Meigs County is at 26 cases. Franklin County has 49 cases with one death.
McMinn County is at 136 cases and now 14 deaths. All of those deaths are at the Life Care Center of Athens.
Monroe County is now at 61 cases and it has had two coronavirus deaths. Polk County is at 15 cases.
Sumner County (Gallatin) is up to 852 cases and remains at 45 deaths.
There are 533 cases in Williamson County and it has 10 coronavirus deaths.