ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

For the third straight day, Hamilton County has announced the death of a resident from COVID-19.

After a stretch of more than five weeks without a reported death, the county health department has announced five since May 25. The latest fatality, announced Thursday, brings the local total to 19 deaths.

The health department did not immediately release any details about the resident who was reported to have died on Thursday. However, Times Free Press COVID-19 data analysis indicates the individual was a white female between 31 and 40 years old.

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.

Hospitalizations in the county also increased on Thursday, from 32 to 34, continuing the week-long trend with hospitalizations higher than at any other point during the pandemic. Fifteen of the people currently hospitalized are in intensive care.

Although most people infected with the coronavirus don't require supportive medical care, the consistent increase in deaths and hospitalizations are signs the local outbreak is worsening.

The county now has 1,275 confirmed people with COVID-19, an increase of 56 cases from Wednesday. Of those confirmed cases, 564 people have recovered and 692 are active cases, 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. The county's total doubled again to 1,275 cases on Thursday.

(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 primarily to increased testing efforts and contact tracing that identifies people who were exposed. Much of the recent spread is among essential workers and in multigenerational households, where isolating a sick individual is nearly impossible, officials said.

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 and people practice safe social distancing, hand hygiene and wear face masks. Face masks are essential because people can be infected with the virus but not show symptoms, unknowingly spreading the virus to those who are more vulnerable.

Other researchers said the economic protections for individuals and businesses are not there for a second shutdown.

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

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT