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Area hospitals ask for extra caution in wake of COVID-19 case surge

Area hospital have banded together and issued a news release as East Tennessee has seen the number of COVID-19 cases more than double in the past month.

The release, issued Tuesday morning, said COVID-19 cases are being managed as of now, but a “major surge” in East Tennessee could “negatively impact the ability of area hospitals to serve patients who have been diagnosed that require hospital care ...”

The University of Tennessee Medical center, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Covenant Health, and Tennova Healthcare issued the joint release.

The release follows:

“According to state submitted hospital data, the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 throughout our East Tennessee region more than doubled in the past month. Medical staff at the 19 hospitals that provide data for the reports remain vigilant, as the statewide count for new COVID-19 cases reached a daily high on Friday with more than 3,600 positive cases reported. The higher number of COVID-19 patients is still being managed safely by local hospitals, but a further surge could mean that the volume of elective procedures may be affected.

“A major surge of new cases in our region could negatively impact the ability of area hospitals to best serve patients who have diagnoses that require hospital care, and the risk of transmitting the virus is likely to increase as people spend more time indoors with cooler temperatures. We urge everyone in our communities to work together to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the five core actions recommended by the Knox County Health Department and health systems:

• Practice physical distancing (stay six feet apart and limit social gatherings).

• Wear cloth face coverings.

• Practice proper handwashing

• Clean/sanitize surfaces.

• Stay home if you are sick.

“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases comes as we prepare for the annual flu season. The flu can place additional strain on the resources of area health-care providers and hospitals. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for everyone over the age of 6 months to get the flu vaccine. This is the best way to protect your health and the health of those around you.

“When it comes to your overall health, please remember that it remains vital to continue receiving your routine screenings and physician check-ups. By working together and following the precautions to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and the flu, we’ll keep hospital space free so the medical teams can care for all those who need hospitalization for situations like heart disease, surgery, traumas and injuries and other major illnesses.

“This also will help keep businesses open and strong and their employees and customers healthy. We thank you in advance for doing all that you can to help keep our community all safe.”