The coronavirus does not take holidays off. Knox County Health Department officials say there is hard evidence of local surges in cases after each summertime holiday this year.
Like clockwork, cases jumped two weeks after Memorial Day, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July. With Labor Day at hand, they’re asking those who are planning parties to reconsider — or at least to carefully incorporate safety measures.
Pandemic parties should not resemble ones that happen in normal years. Stay outdoors, even though it’s hot. Socially distance and only seat household family members together. Wear face coverings, wash hands often, offer sanitizer and clean surfaces regularly. Most importantly, make sure no one attends if they’re not feeling well or if they have been asked to quarantine.
“We’re seeing (an) increase in cases after these holidays,” said Charity Menefee, Knox County Health Department’s director of emergency preparedness. “And we don’t want that to happen again while we have other things going on in the community.”
The University of Tennessee and Knox County Schools are both in session again, adding to the possibility of a new surge.
“So there’s a lot of activity and movement happening right now that we want to remind people that those five core actions still come into play no matter where you are going or what you are doing, even at these social gatherings, these holiday events,” Menefee said.
COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to two weeks, meaning it can take that long for a person to develop symptoms after being exposed.
More precautions: Knox County board extends 10 p.m. bar curfew but declines to limit alcohol at restaurants
Knox County’s coronavirus benchmarks are green except for hospital capacity, which is yellow and will remain yellow as hospitalizations are “slowly trending up,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan, the county’s health department director.
Buchanan said two of the benchmarks — the sustained number of new cases and the sustained testing and testing turnaround times — are “cautious greens” and she would expect them to turn yellow next week, mostly due to schools and the University of Tennessee returning to in-person learning.
In July, Buchanan said the department learned though contact tracing that most local cases were spread through parties, not mass gatherings like protests.
Here’s a look at charts from the Knox County Health Department showing the increase after holidays.