Blount County saw a steady rise in COVID-19 cases this week, following October’s trends thus far.

There were 233 new coronavirus cases in the county from Oct. 8 to Oct. 15, Tennessee Department of Health data showed. That’s 81 more than from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7.

The highest daily increase was 43 on Oct. 9. The highest in October’s first week was 34 on Oct. 7.

So far this month, Blount County doesn’t have as many cases as the same time period August and July, which were the county’s heaviest COVID-19 months.

However, October has seen more cases than the same amount of time in September.

There were three new COVID-19 deaths from Oct. 8 to Oct. 15 — one less than the prior seven days. That’s the third highest number of deaths in a seven-day period. The first week of October saw the second highest.

As of Friday, Oct. 16, there were 279 active COVID-19 cases in the county.

“We’re certainly seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in our community,” Blount Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harold Naramore said. “While we all hoped this would not be the case, we have been continuing to plan to ensure we were ready to care for our community.”

On Friday Oct. 16, Blount Memorial Hospital had 22 COVID-19 inpatients, BMH Public Relations Director Jennie Bounds said.

“Our COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased slowly, but steadily, throughout the past two weeks, and those increases have taken us back to the higher numbers of inpatients that we saw six to eight weeks ago,” Naramore said.

He added Blount Memorial has seen an increase in its testing tent volumes with several people presenting for testing with symptoms consistent with the virus.

“I would remind our community again that the best COVID-19 prevention measures — and the best way to keep our community safe and thriving — include wearing a mask; staying at least 6 feet apart; washing your hands; and avoiding large indoor gatherings,” he said. “The medical science is very strong on the effectiveness of these preventive steps, and they’re also helpful in preventing the spread of any respiratory illness.”

Naramore added that getting a flu shot this year is of utmost importance

In the first few weeks of the flu shot clinic at East Tennessee Medical Group, a BMH satellite clinic, there was a roughly 30% increase in patients getting flu shots compared to last year’s clinic, he said.

“I am pleased to say that our community seems to be taking an important step to protecting their health by getting flu shots,” he said. “If you haven’t gotten yours yet, there’s still time — and it’s a very valuable use of your time to go get it.”

Flu shots are available at ETMG, 266 Joule St. in Alcoa, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. They also can be received at ETMG ’s CareToday Clinic, also at 266 Joule Street, from 4-9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

No appointments are necessary to receive an ETMG flu shot, and most insurances are accepted.

Flu shots also are available at many pharmacies.

Follow @sshreports on Twitter for more from county government reporter Shelby Harris.

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