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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / A single tear rolls down the face of East Lake Court resident Kerry Walker as he stands outside of the East Lake Courts Community Center, where he was tested for the coronavirus by members of the Tennessee National Guard on Thursday, May 21, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. "It hurt so bad," Walker said of his testing experience.

The Hamilton County Health Department announced 44 new COVID-19 cases — the most cases reported in the county in a single day since the pandemic began — on Friday, bringing the county's total case count to 531 and continuing the trend of more than three weeks of rising cases.

The previous single day high of 43 cases came on Wednesday. Of the 531 total cases, 312 are recovered.

The number of patients with COVID-19 in local hospitals fell from 16 on Thursday to 12 on Friday, but all of those patients are currently in intensive care units — marking the most critically ill coronavirus patients to date in Hamilton County hospitals, according to data from the Hamilton County Health Department. Hospitalization data includes patients who are residents of other counties.

Friday's increase continues a surge of new cases in Hamilton County, with the area averaging 27 new cases a day over the past week, more than six times the average on May 1 and higher than at any other point during the pandemic.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com.

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