Every week, the Times Free Press will publish five essential things to know about the coronavirus pandemic in the Chattanooga region. For more updated case count numbers and other data related to Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, visit timesfreepress.com/virus/. You can also text 5Things to 4234019454 to get this weekly article texted to you each week.
Five things to know about COVID-19 in the Chattanooga region for the week ending Sept. 11:
1. Hamilton County could see a coronavirus surge following Labor Day weekend: The area experienced spikes after Memorial Day and Independence Day.
Why it matters: Large group gatherings are increasingly driving the spread of the virus in Hamilton County. People who participated in parties or other large group activities should monitor their symptoms, health experts said. Signs of infection can start showing around three days after exposure. Those who were potentially exposed and are having symptoms should get tested.
Read more about why Labor Day could drive another COVID-19 spike in Chattanooga.
2. More than 400 people are quarantined from Walker County Schools: School leaders say positive cases are coming from the community, not the schools.
Why it matters: Since the start of school, 41 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and 486 people have had to be quarantined because of close contact. However, Superintendent Damon Raines said the 41 cases represent just o.55% of the 7,508 staff members and students who are in the buildings. The 486 that have been quarantined represent 6.47% of that total. Schools throughout the area continue to struggle as positive cases have forced testing or school closures.
Read more about how Walker County Schools is responding.
3. Local health leaders warn of coming flu season: The colder months and "COVID fatigue" could make the pandemic worse in Chattanooga.
Why it matters: Dr. Andrea Willis, chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, said COVID-19 and the seasonal flu often rely on the same or similar medical resources. People are encouraged to get a flu shot this year especially to help mitigate the spread of influenza this year.
4. Childhood diseases linked to COVID-19 on the rise: Tennessee children's hospitals are starting to see pediatric patients with a mysterious illness believed to be connected to the coronavirus.
Why it matters: There have been 792 confirmed cases of multi-inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and 16 deaths in 42 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local doctors said most children recover from the coronavirus or other related issues but the long-term effects are not known.
5. Local groups partner to expand coronavirus testing access: Cempa Community Care, La Paz Chattanooga and Alleo Health System are working together to offer testing in the afternoon.
Why it matters: The announcement this week comes after the grant-funded project of testing at various predominantly Black churches ended last month without similar programs to take its place. The Hamilton County Health Department also permanently moved its testing efforts to the Alstom site on Riverfront Parkway once schools reopened in August.
Read more about where you can get tested for COVID-19.
What are your experiences with the coronavirus? Are you or someone you love affected by it? What questions do you have? We would like to hear from you, so please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Wyatt Massey at email@example.com or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.