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For the second straight day, the Hamilton County Health Department announced a death related to COVID-19, bringing the local total to 18 deaths.

After a streak of more than five weeks without a reported death, the county has announced four since May 25.

Two deaths were reported Tuesday, including a person between 40 and 45 years old who had no underlying medical conditions. The death announced Wednesday was a white female older than 81 years old, according to data released by the department.

The county now has 1,219 confirmed people with COVID-19, with 32 hospitalizations, including 16 people in intensive care. Of those confirmed cases, 524 people have recovered, according to the department.

Confirmed infections in the county have surged since the beginning of May — doubling in 14 days from 163 cases on May 1 to 326 on May 14, then nearly doubling again in 10 days to 640 on May 24 and now nearly doubling again in 10 days to 1,219 cases.

(READ MORE: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in the Chattanooga region and other frequently asked questions)

Local officials have said the increasing cases are due to spread among essential workers and in multigenerational households, where isolating a sick individual is nearly impossible.

Hospitalizations from the virus — an indicator of how the county is handling the spread — have more than doubled in the past week, from 14 hospitalizations on May 26 to 32 on Wednesday.

During a news briefing Tuesday, Rae Bond, chairwoman of the local COVID-19 Task Force, said that while COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising, local hospitals are not overwhelmed and are able to safely care for all patients.

"We're seeing a small uptick in hospitalizations, but the hospitals are all reporting that they have adequate testing supplies, adequate [personal protective equipment] and they remain fully operational," Bond said.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger has said he will not reinstate any "stay at home" order that closed businesses in April. Experts who are modeling the virus said reclosing may not be necessary to stop the spread as long as super-spreading events, such as sporting events or concerts, do not happen. Other researchers said the economic protections for individuals and businesses are not there for a second shutdown.

Contact Wyatt Massey at wmassey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass

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