Coronavirus: The latest local updates, cancellations, resources, + more

21,050
There are more chances to get tested for COVID-19. I Image via the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Major Local Announcements

To stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 numbers in Hamilton County, including the total number of cases, number of active cases, deaths, and case demographics, click here. Hamilton County Health Department-affiliated drive-thru testing is also still free to the public everyday at the Alstom Plant (1125 Riverfront Pkwy).

Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order calling for many city buildings to remain closed until further notice. The buildings include City Hall, the City Hall Annex, and the City offices within the Development Resource Center, libraries, and YFD Centers as well as restrictions to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Tivoli, and Memorial Auditorium. (NewsChannel 9)

The Hamilton County Health Department released guidance to help protect workers + prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, where a major source of transmission in our community has originated based on investigations. The guidance includes not eating lunch too closely together, avoiding holiday office parties, wearing masks around coworkers, staying home if sick, and social distancing. Read more about suppressing workplace transmission here. 😷

The Hamilton County Health Department announced several possible COVID-19 exposures at Wimpie’s Restaurant, Super Carniceria Loa #7, and a “friendsgiving” party that took place in the commons area of the Tomorrow Building. Possible exposures took place on Nov. 16 and 18 at Wimpie’s restaurant, Nov. 7 through Nov. 19 at Super Carniceria #7, and Nov. 18 at the friendsgiving Party.

The Hamilton County Health Department reported a COVID-19 exposure linked to A5 Volleyball activities. The events began Sun.day, Nov. 8 and continued through Sat.urday, Nov. 14. The health department urges anyone who participated in the events to seek testing immediately, and social distance themselves while awaiting their results. For free testing stations nearby, click here.

Mayor Jim Coppinger announced that the mask mandate will continue until Jan. 15, 2021. Coppinger and several local leaders, doctors and community members had an hour-long news conference Thursday when they laid out reasons to wear a mask, as well as practice social distancing, handwashing and other preventative measures. A local COVID-19 survivor, as well as a family who lost someone to the virus also spoke about the importance of taking precautions. (News Channel 9)

The White House is pushing for Tennessee restaurant limitations due to COVID-19 rates doubling in the state. The limitations called for include limiting indoor restaurant capacity to less than 25% and limiting bar hours until new positive case rates drop. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Due to the flu vaccination clinic occurring on Nov. 19, COVID-19 testing hours at the Alstom Plant will be reduced to 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. today. The Alstom COVID-19 testing site will also be closed on Thanksgiving day + the Friday after Thanksgiving. Testing will resume on Sat., Nov. 28.

Local pulmonary specialist Dr. Mike Czarnecki recently launched a new clinic that focuses specifically on treating and researching COVID-19 cases with longer side effects or symptoms. The COVID-19 clinics take place every Friday at Dr. Czarnecki’s office. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group is making more COVID-19 testing options available for Tennesseans leading up to + following Thanksgiving. The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee National Guard will extend operating hours at 35 county health departments, and the state National Guard will also support testing during extended hours at the Hamilton County Health Department. Click here for the local health department’s calendar of free testing sites.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke recently called for a statewide mask mandate. This comes as Hamilton County has seen 1,400 new COVID-19 cases and seven new COVID-19-related deaths in the last week. Hamilton County’s current mask mandate is set to expire on Nov. 22. (NewsChannel 9)

Chattanooga State Community College is transitioning to a modified Phase 2 of its pandemic plan because of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the region. The modified Phase 2 will allow the school to decrease the number of people on campus to only those who need to visit for classes, work, or by appointment.

The Hamilton County Health Department recently announced possible COVID-19 exposures. The possible exposures took place at Bank of America on Gunbarrel Road on Nov. 2 + Hamilton County General Sessions, Hamilton County Chancery Court, Hamilton County Circuit Court, and Superior County of Catoosa County on Nov. 2-3. 

The CDC released its guidelines for gatherings this Thanksgiving, including recommendations to stay home during the holiday as travel poses an increased risk for transmission. High risk activities outlined by the CDC include going shopping in crowded stores, attending crowded parades, participating in a crowded race, using alcohol or drugs, and attending large indoor gatherings with people outside of your family. (NewsChannel 9)

The Hamilton County Health Department released recent trends in the local COVID-19 pandemic. About 25% of daily new positive cases are in 21-30 year olds, new cases among the 11-20 year old age group are trending up from last week, and the highest case counts per day remain in the zip codes 37343 (Hixson/Middle Valley), 37363 (Ooltewah/Collegedale), and 37421 (East Brainerd), while cases in the 37415 (Red Bank) and 37379 (Soddy-Daisy/Lakesite) zip codes are trending upward.

A report from the White House urged Tennessee residents to stop gathering beyond their immediate household until COVID-19 cases and positive tests “decrease significantly.” ABC news obtained the unpublished document, which covers all 50 states. (NewsChannel 9)

○ The United States Department of Health and Human Services is sending 2,050,000 BinaxNOW COVID-19 point of care antigen tests to Tennessee. The tests can detect COVID-19 results in as little as 15 minutes. The test kits will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Bill Lee to support students, first responders, nursing home patients, and other priorities as he sees fit. (Chattanoogan.com)

The Regeneron antibody treatment that President Donald Trump was given after testing positive for COVID-19 is now being offered in Chattanooga as part of an investigative clinical trial at ClinSearch. The anti-viral antibody treatment is being studied for its potential in treating COVID-19. If you are interested in learning more about enrolling in a study, click here. (NewsChannel 9)

○ The Hamilton County Health Department is shifting their COVID-19 testing site hours to 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. for safety reasons. The new hours will allow more daylight at the site in the early morning and allow the site to be warmer. There is no change in the total amount of time the site is available to the public for free COVID testing, which remains at 4 ½ hours daily, seven days a week.

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you can read this article from the Hamilton County health department’s Dr. Hendricks to see how long after being exposed you should get tested. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

The Chattanooga location of research company Wake Research, ClinSearch, is conducting trials of a new drug in Chattanooga to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The drug is supposed to work faster than a vaccine + act as preventative therapy to people who have been directly exposed to COVID-19. The drug is also being tested in three other cities nationwide. (WRCB)

As flu season starts, many people may wonder how to distinguish between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. A test is the only way to be sure, but doctors also offered some differences to note. For example, with the seasonal flu, most people feel worse the first week. With COVID-19, patients likely feel worse as more time goes on. COVID-19 is also more likely to cause loss of taste and smell. (NewsChannel 9)

Check out this article from the Times Free Press with respiratory therapist Jerry Czerkasij, who explains his job and how he and other respiratory therapists have been working to help COVID-19 patients. Czerkasij also explained the process of putting someone on a ventilator, and how it is often the last resort. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

CEO of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society Rae Bond is encouraging Chattanoogans to continue wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing despite COVID-19 fatigue. Chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Dr. Andrea Willis added that the upcoming flu season can bring additional challenges as it collides with the pandemic, so these practices will be especially important. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Health experts are encouraging Chattanoogans to get a flu vaccination, as the threat of a “twindemic” looms. As patients are protected from the flu, professionals are better able to distinguish between influenza and COVID-19. Dr. Anderson added that many of the symptoms of COVID-19 are found in influenza, so being vaccinated limits health risks. (WRCB)

The Tennessee Department of Health announced that it would be changing its COVID-19 reporting guidelines on active cases, following guidance from the CDC. The state will now consider someone an active case for 14 days after the start of the illness or when a test was conducted, while the previous time frame was 21 days. On Sep. 4, the first day that the rule went into place, the Hamilton County Health Department reported 901 active cases, after reporting 1,701 the day before. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

The World Health Organization is saying that children aged six to eleven should wear face masks in some cases to help fight the spread of COVID-19 as schools are starting back nationwide. The WHO said that decisions regarding children wearing a mask should consider factors like whether transmission is widespread in the area, the child’s ability to safely use a mask, and adult supervision when taking the masks on or off. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Tennesseans who test positive for COVID-19 or are isolating with a household member who has tested positive could be asked to quarantine for a longer period of time under new state guidelines. The 14-day quarantine process for residents living with an infected person would not start until after day 10 of isolation — based on the onset of symptoms that could be a total of 24 days. (WRCB)

Health experts, including CHI Memorial Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Mark Anderson, are warning citizens about superspreading events, where a single person can infect a large number of people with COVID-19 in one setting. A superspreader can transmit the virus to between 10 and 20 people, and potentially more, at one gathering. Dr. Anderson and other experts believe superspreading events drive most COVID-19 spread, and precautions like masking + social distancing will work to get the virus under control. (NewsChannel 9)

Check out this “Ask a Doctor” article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press to read what to know about asthma and face masks. According to Dr. Susan Raschal, anyone with stable asthma who is not experiencing an exacerbation does not have a facial deformity, does not have sensory processing issues, and is over two years old should be wearing face masks at this time. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III says mask mandates are legally defensible. Slatery equates mask mandates to seat belt laws + helmet requirements for motorcyclists. Read more about Slatery’s views on mask mandates here. (WRCB)

Are you wondering what, exactly, is contact tracing? Check out this “Ask a Doctor” article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press about what contact tracing is and the steps that are involved within the contact tracing process. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

After gaining new evidence from the CDC, the Hamilton County Health Department will now end the isolation period for most adults sick with COVID-19 10 days (previously 14) after symptom onset if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication + other symptoms have improved. For those who never developed symptoms, isolation and other precautions can be stopped 10 days after their first positive RT-PCR test was collected.

Researchers at Brigham Young University released a report showing that cloth masks do, in fact, help combat the spread of coronavirus. After reviewing over 100 different scientific studies on the virus assembled by various independent groups worldwide, the report found that cloth masks undoubtedly reduce virus spread by blocking 90% of the wearer’s respiratory droplets. 😷 (NewsChannel 9)

Ways to Stay Updated

Hamilton County Schools has created a COVID-19 reporting dashboard on their website in order to be transparent with students and family members. The dashboard will include the number of active confirmed COVID-19 cases and exposures impacting people in the school district + the percentage of positive cases for employees by month. The dashboard will soon have similar data for students as well.

Check out this article from the Times Free Press to get a glimpse of what it’s like for Chattanooga nurses to treat COVID-19 patients. The article shares what a day looks like for these nurses, misconceptions about the virus, and how the hospitals have learned to care for COVID-19 patients. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

You can stay updated on Hamilton County’s COVID-19 positive, negative, and total number of tests via the county health department’s website. The site also includes the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the county + demographic details about those who have been tested.

Unacast, a human mobility data company, recently created a Social Distancing Scoreboard that is updated daily to measure + understand the efficacy of social distancing initiatives in each county and state. The data is measured by each county’s percent change in average distance traveled, percent change in non-essential visitation, and decrease in human encounters. Find Hamilton County’s Social Distancing Scoreboard here.

UTC’s interdisciplinary geospatial technology lab has created a regional Covid-19 dashboard that identifies the number of confirmed cases, deaths, and hospital beds across the greater Chattanooga region. You can stay updated on all of this information via the dashboard found here.

How to Stay Safe + Do Your Part

As flu season starts, many people may wonder how to distinguish between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. A test is the only way to be sure, but doctors also offered some differences to note. For example, with the seasonal flu, most people feel worse the first week. With COVID-19, patients likely feel worse as more time goes on. COVID-19 is also more likely to cause loss of taste and smell. (NewsChannel 9)

If you are looking to get tested for COVID-19, you can click here to find a list of Hamilton County Health Department-affiliated free testing sites, most of which occur at the Alstom Plant at 1125 Riverfront Parkway. You can also click here to find other testing sites and events happening each week in Hamilton County.

Hamilton County schools’ athletic officials want to remind fans that they must wear masks at the games for the safety of others and in order for the schools to continue participating in athletics. In order to attend a game, fans must also have their temperature taken upon entering and stay six feet apart from others. (NewsChannel 9)

Back-to-school is more stressful than usual this year for many families. These 8 practices can help keep your child – and your family – safe and healthy

If you’re wondering what makes hand sanitizer effective + what you should be looking for when purchasing, check out this article. (Reminder: the Chattanooga Times Free Press has made all of its Coronavirus coverage free, you just have to make an account first). (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Doctors are telling people to get their flu shots this year so we can avoid a twindemic,” which is when two outbreaks, like COVID-19 and influenza, happen at the same time. (NewsChannel 9)

If you’re planning on attending a high school football game this fall, be sure to check out TSSAA’s list of health and safety guidelines. The guidelines include requiring all fans except those under the age of two to wear facial coverings, maintaining six feet or two seats of social distance between others, discouraging the use of a school band, and requiring that every person at the game have their temperature checked before entering. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Check out this article for more information about the difference between quarantine and isolation, which one you may need to consider if you’ve been near someone with COVID-19, and how long you should spend isolating or quarantining depending on the situation. Keep in mind while reading that because this virus is new, guidelines on these topics could change. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

The Hamilton County Health Department announced a new COVID-19 testing location at Alstom Plant (1119 Riverfront Pkwy.). Testing at the new site began Monday and will run daily through the end of September from 7-11 a.m. The health department will no longer be testing at schools as the new school year begins. The health department also said that moving forward, test results will be available between 24-48 hours after testing.

The Hamilton County Health Department reminded those who are getting tested for COVID-19 to provide a current and working telephone number so that you can receive results. If you have tested positive for the virus, the health department will conduct contact tracing in order to determine who has been exposed to you + inform them that they have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient. 

Wearing a face mask may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s possible to make it comfortable. The CDC recommends masks made of breathable material like woven cotton sheets or T-shirt fabric in light shades that won’t absorb the sun’s heat. Another recommendation is bringing extra masks if planning on being out in public for an extended period of time. For more advice, click here. (NewsChannel 9)

The CDC recently released information about how to use hand sanitizer effectively when you don’t have access to soap + water to wash your hands. The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol and rubbing it between your hands for at least 30 seconds until all of the gel is dry. (NewsChannel 9

If somebody in your family recently tested positive for COVID-19, this article written by health officer for the Hamilton County Health Department Dr. Paul Hendricks provides information on how to safely care for them at home. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

○ If your face mask is fogging up your glasses, there’s a quick fix for that. You just need to wash them with soapy water, according to a report from Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. That’s some news you can use, right there. (WRCB

The CDC is advising caregivers of those who have been infected with COVID-19 not to shake clothing, towels, or linens, in addition to wearing disposable gloves while washing items that have been in contact with someone who is infected.  make sure items are completely dry after washing them, disinfect clothes hampers + wash their hands. (NewsChannel 9)

How to Help

Local restaurant Charlie’s BBQ is urging the Chattanooga community to support the Federal 2020 Restaurants Act, which would provide financial assistance to locally owned restaurants during COVID-19 to help prevent small businesses from closing their doors. Charlie’s BBQ owners Wes Agee and Elizabeth St. Claire said that their expenses have increased 38% since the pandemic began. (NewsChannel9)

If you had COVID-19 and have fully recovered, you could help patients who are currently fighting the infection by donating your plasma. Bodies that have fought the infection now have COVID-19 antibodies in their plasma, which provides a way for immune systems to fight the virus. Learn more here

Double Cola Co. is raising money for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, which anticipates an additional monthly cost of $100,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Locally based Double Cola will do a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10,000 in funds raised for the local nonprofit. That gift is the equivalent of 80,000 meals. To help Double Cola reach its goal, visit the fundraising page here

○ Erlanger Health System has received an outpouring of offers to donate supplies, equipment + time – which is greatly appreciated – so they’ve created this form to those who wish to donate. Read more on Erlanger’s COVID-19 response. 

Due to COVID-19, McKamey Animal Center has been forced to cancel fundraisers that account for over 40% of their budget. If you’re looking to help during this time of need, McKamey asks that you consider donating to the center so that they can continue to provide services to families facing crises and animals in need of shelter and care.

Schedule Changes + Updates

Fall contact sports at nearby Lee University are postponed. All universities in the Gulf South Conference, including Lee, will postpone basketball, football, soccer and volleyball until at least Jan. 1. (NewsChannel 9)

Tennessee and Georgia have both recently received official guidelines for the return to offseason workouts for all sanctioned sports. TSSAA is allowing individual counties to implement their own start dates, and Hamilton County coaches have been told that they can have workouts on June 1. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

As the CDC released guidelines about reopening schools in the fall, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson said he has his own task force working on plans, too. Expertise from the CDC and medical professionals will guide local decisions, he also said. The CDC recommendations include social distancing policies, serving lunch in classrooms and staggering arrival times. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

UT System President Randy Boyd and UT-system chancellors have made the decision to return to in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester. For students returning to campus, social distancing and enhanced safety measures will be implemented at UT schools. (NewsChannel 9)

College and professional sporting events (CBS Sports)

Hamilton County School District 

City of Chattanooga

Community Resources

The Regeneron antibody treatment that President Donald Trump has been given after testing positive for COVID-19 is now being offered in Chattanooga as part of an investigative clinical trial at ClinSearch. The anti-viral antibody treatment is being studied for its potential in treating COVID-19. If you are interested in learning more about enrolling in a study, click here. (NewsChannel 9)

Cempa Community Care is partnering with La Paz Chattanooga + Alleo Health System to offer permanent COVID-19 testing locations through the end of November. The partners will offer testing at the La Paz office (1402 Bailey Ave.) and the Alleo Health System office (4411 Oakwood Dr.). You can find more information about the new free testing locations here.

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor recently approved Tennessee for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. The grant will allow Tennessee to provide $300 per weekin addition to unemployment benefits — to those who are unemployed due to COVID-19. (NewsChannel 9)

If your family or business is in need of face masks, you can call the COVID-19 hotline at (423) 209-8383 to schedule an appointment to pick up large quantities of masks. Individuals can also pick up masks from the bins located outside of the Health Department’s 3rd Street entrances.

The Hamilton County Health Department announced a new COVID-19 testing location at Alstom Plant (1119 Riverfront Pkwy.). Testing at the new site began Monday and will run daily through the end of September from 7-11 a.m. The health department will no longer be testing at schools as the new school year begins. The health department also said that moving forward, test results will be available between 24-48 hours after testing.

The Hamilton County Health Department is changing the hours of the COVID-19 hotline. The new hours will be Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.4 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and closed on Sunday.  The call center has already fielded 22,462 calls since March 5.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced a new relief program for Tennessee businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. About $200 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds will be directed to small businesses that qualify. You can view details about the Tennessee Business Relief program here.

○ The Hamilton County Health Department created a series of informational videos that can be shared with people who have tested positive for COVID-19, their families, and close contacts. You can access the videos on the health department’s Spanish Youtube channel + English Youtube channel.

For updated information on COVID-19 testing sites and events in Hamilton County that are affiliated with the Health Department, click here. The list will be updated daily as needed with free testing sites and pop-up testing events.

As members of the community continue to work + learn from home, EPB is working to ensure households have power + connectivity. See EPB’s COVID-19 updates and resources

Local healthcare analytics company Base Camp Health has launched a digital application that allows businesses and organizations to manage and monitor the return of employees, students, and volunteers as the community begins to reopen. The app, called Ascend, streamlines individual assessments, communication workflows, contact tracing + population reporting to allow organizations to make decisions on safe operations each day. 

○ The Innovation District of Chattanooga has created two tools to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic — an interactive database of resources and a daily newsletter — both designed to help Chattanooga businesses navigate the information and assistance available to them. The database, found at ChaBusiness.com, guides each user through the process of finding the most relevant information for their specific needs. It may also be beneficial for artists, freelancers, nonprofits and others. 

The Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program recently created a free, confidential guide to help attorneys who may be facing extra stress or pressure due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The guide includes resources for mental health, recovery + professional needs. (Chattanoogan.com)

Families in need of assistance due to loss of a job amidst COVID-19 may be eligible to apply for up to $1000 a month for two months through Emergency Cash Assistance. Families are eligible if they were employed as of March 11 and have lost a job or at least 50% of their earned income due to COVID-19, have a child under 18 or a pregnant woman, have a valid social security number, do not have resources exceeding $2000, and have a gross monthly income that does not exceed 85% of the state’s median income. (NewsChannel 9)

Tennessee Action for Hospitality, a coalition that formed in response to the crisis the hospitality industry is facing, recently partnered with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to create A Fund for Us. A Fund For Us will provide relief to those who have lost their jobs or seen a dramatic decrease in hours worked. Restaurants can register here to make their employees eligible.

Spanish COVID-19 resource page

The Health Department has created English and Spanish COVID-19 print resources that you can download and hang in your workplace or otherwise distribute. They are free to use by anyone. You can find them here

○ Yelp Chattanooga has created collections of restaurants offering to-go + delivery, where to buy gift cards online and grocery stores offering delivery.

○ SCORE is offering small business resources here.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has opened access to their coronavirus content to everyone, not just subscribers.

The Chattanooga Area Food Bank can supply four meals with every dollar that is donated to them. You can contribute by donating to their Venmo @ChattanoogaArea-FoodBank or clicking here.

The Chattanooga Chamber has a pool of resources on their site, including local health updates, restaurants offering take-out + delivery, online shopping + gift cards, tools for working remotely, and a small business hotline.

Elliott Davis put together helpful resources pertaining to business continuity, tax updates, and other related issues.

Health Care Resources

Parkridge Health System is offering financial assistance resources for tri-state residents unemployed or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone in southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and northeast Alabama can call (833) 867-8771 for guidance from experts that will help callers find the best assistance option for their specific health needs.

CHI Memorial, Erlanger Health System, and Parkridge Health System revised visitation policies created at the beginning of the pandemic to help reduce the spread of the virus and keep our patients and staff safe. CHI Memorial and Parkridge Health System have relaxed their visitation policies to allow one visitor, with some exceptions. Officials with Erlanger continue to re-evaluate its current visitation policies and are not planning to make any changes at this time. Visitation policies for each health system can be found online — CHI Memorial, Erlanger Health System + Parkridge Health system.

○ Erlanger’s Health System’s response to coronavirus COVID-19

○ CHI Memorial’s response to coronavirus COVID-19

CDC Resources

World Health Organization Resources

Community Conversations

Chattanooga Tourism Co. (formerly Chattanooga Visitors Bureau) launched a new campaign to keep us all virtually connected #ConnectChatt. Check out the details + join the conversation here.

You can join the Chattanooga COVID-19 Community Assistance Facebook group here.

Pass It Down has partnered with the Chattanooga Public Library to gather your COVID-19  stories. These community stories will be used in an interactive exhibit, which you can explore here. Click here to share your story.