Bradley County officials said Wednesday that the active COVID-19 current case count "shows that Bradley County numbers have risen to a level not seen since May of 2021."
The latest count from the Tennessee Department of Health puts the number of active cases in Bradley County at 331. This number represents an additional 40 new cases in one day alone.
Weekly counts have doubled for the last three weeks as the rise in new cases trends upward. Hospitalization numbers are also tracking very closely with this trend.
On what is causing the surge in new cases, officials said, "It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the increase, but common sense would point to a few possible reasons why. The emergence of new variants of the original COVID-19 virus is likely to be the primary reason for our spike in numbers. These new variants can be more contagious and spread more easily than previous versions.
"Another reason may be the lack of attention paid to prevention. As our numbers began to drop just a few months ago, life appeared to return to 'normal'. This undoubtedly resulted in a false sense of security and a deviation from the precautions necessary to stop the spread.
"This is an excellent time to revisit the Four Steps:
1. Wash your hands.
2. Avoid crowds when possible.
3. Stay six feet apart.
4. Wear a mask
On whether there will be a mask mandate in Bradley County, officials said, "The governor has given no indication he will institute a mask mandate and has not taken steps to give authority to local officials to mandate one either. There was not a mandate in Bradley County earlier in the pandemic, and there is no plan to institute one in the future."
On whether there will be a vaccine mandate in Bradley County, it was stated, "No authority or directive has been given to state or local officials to mandate or require the vaccine. Organizations and businesses may be choosing to implement their own requirements, but there is no such mandate or requirement from the county level.
"Only roughly 30 percent of the Bradley County population has been vaccinated, and we continue to encourage those who are willing and able to be vaccinated to do so."
County Mayor Gary Davis said, “It is frustrating and disturbing to watch important issues regarding public health become so politically polarizing. I trust the people of Bradley County to do the right thing and choose what is best for themselves when considering wearing a mask or to get the vaccine.
“I do not believe it is the job of government to mandate or require what those choices should be.”