Governor Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group (UCG) met with community leaders and healthcare representatives at the courthouse in Alamo on Friday, October 23.
During this meeting, Rachel Powers, Scott Brower and Dr. John Dunn of Unified Command offered guidance and information on concerns from local medical personnel, educators and leaders.
Unified Command is comprised of professionals with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), military leaders and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
There will be an open drive through COVID-19 testing site in Crockett County and other rural communities on Saturday, October 31 in an ongoing effort to curb rising case rates in Tennessee’s rural areas.
Saturday’s COVID-19 testing is free to those who want to receive a test. The testing site will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and will stay open until all individuals in the vehicle line have received tests. Testing for Crockett County will be at Alamo First Christian Church located at 1550 TN-88 in Alamo.
Tennessee National Guard medics and TDH personnel will be at the testing site to collect nasal swabs from those who voluntarily agree to a COVID-19 test.
Participants should receive their test results within 72 hours, depending on test processing volume at laboratories. Information will be provided to participants at the testing locations on what they can expect after being tested. This information is also available at: www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/TestedGuidance.pdf.
Governor Lee formed the UCG on March 23, bringing together the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Military, and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to streamline coordination across key Tennessee departments to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The UCG visit to Crockett on October 23 follows a surge in rural community COVID-19 positive cases. Crockett County is one of many counties currently being hit hard by the virus. As of Monday, October 26, Crockett County’s positive test rate is 5,763 per 100,000 residents. In the October 18 White House Task Force report, Crockett was listed in the Red Zone which indicates that during that week, reported both new cases at or above 101 per 100,000 population and a lab test positivity result at or above 10.1 percent.
UCG stated that in the beginning, urban areas with a dense population were hit harder by COVID-19 than rural communities but at this time, there has been a shift to show that the rural Tennessee communities are now seeing the virus spread more.
Crockett County Mayor Gary Reasons pointed out that many of the cases within the community are coming from large gatherings.
The UCG is encouraging anyone who has received isolation or quarantine instructions due to a positive test result or contract tracing to follow those guidelines to help slowly and stop the spread. Individuals who have the virus are considered infectious for approximately 10 days while they shed the virus.
While virus indicators for COVID-19 and the Flu are different, the preventative measures are the same.
UCG considers current effective primary prevention measures for COVID-19 and the Flu to be avoiding large groups or gatherings and confined spaces, social distancing with staying six feet apart, staying home when sick and covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands and using alcohol based hand rub frequently, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects often and wearing face coverings.
While UCG agrees that each of these individually is imperfect, using these preventative measures together reduces risks of spreading the virus. UCG used a diagram of Swiss cheese to demonstrate how each measure used simultaneously can prevent the spread of COVID-19. While social distancing only, still allows for virus spread but less so with distance, adding good ventilation to it reduces the spread a little more, adding masks a little more and with each step including hand hygiene, testing, contract tracing and surface cleaning the risk of spreading the virus becomes less.
Crowded places, close contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation are higher risk areas.
UCG encouraged the Crockett community to utilize these precautionary measures as positive cases results continue to rise. The free COVID-19 testing on October 31, is available to anyone who needs to have a test completed.