Rhea County sees jump in COVID-19 cases from 13 to 188

Doctor cites migrant worker outbreak, in addition to cases at La-Z-Boy and Life Care

Staff photo by Tim Barber/ The Rhea County Health Department is located in Evensville, Tenn.

Officials in Rhea County on Thursday said that a COVID-19 outbreak - possibly among migrant workers on a local farm - caused the county's number of confirmed cases to jump this week from 13 to 188, raising alarm as the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches.

Rhea County Executive George Thacker said Thursday afternoon that he'd had no luck learning any details from state health officials about why the increase is happening, but he wants local residents to be especially cautious over the coming three-day weekend.

"I know this is Memorial Day weekend and you're going to have to be careful because the numbers have really jumped up," Thacker said in a video statement posted Wednesday night on his social media page.

"I think we need to be cautious and wear protection and go back to washing your hands," Thacker said Thursday.