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Staff photo by Wyatt Massey / Christy Botts, clinical manager at Physicians Services, swabs someone for a COVID-19 test in the parking lot of the Cleveland clinic on March 29, 2020.

While cases of the deadly coronavirus continue to surge in Hamilton County, nearby Cleveland is becoming a hotspot for the virus.

The city 35 miles east of Chattanooga was ranked seventh on Thursday on The New York Times nationwide list of emerging COVID-19 outbreaks. Cases are growing there at a rate of 7% and doubling every 11 days. Logan, Utah, and Oxford, North Carolina, topped the list.

There are 241 cases in Bradley County, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. A month earlier, on May 11, the county reported 72 cases. In the past week the county has averaged 11 new cases a day.

Cases are spreading throughout the county and are not tied to a specific area or cluster, said Glenn Czarnecki, regional director for the Southeast Region of the Tennessee Department of Health.

"We expected to see a slight rise in cases in Tennessee as more businesses reopened and more individuals left their homes more frequently," reads a statement by Czarnecki. "Thus far, the rise is manageable, and the rate of transmission and the positivity rate have been relatively stable."

Cases linked to reopening businesses also emerged this month in Hamilton County, which is continuing a monthlong surge.

The increase in Bradley County is too recent to know if it represents a pattern, but the department of health will continue to monitor cases in Bradley County, Czarnecki said. He also urged people to continue wearing masks and distancing themselves when in public.

Some health experts fear people are not taking the necessary precautions to stop the spread of the virus. They believe businesses will not need to re-close if people stay physically distant, wear masks and wash their hands when in public.

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

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