According to the state health department, 11 people in Rhea County have died from COVID-19.

Rhea County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases is approaching 800 recently, and as of press time Tuesday, the county had recorded 781 confirmed cases, according to state figures.

Records provided by the state indicate that as of Tuesday, there were 72 active cases in Rhea County — down from nearly 100 in late August; 698 individuals have recovered from the virus and 11 people have died from COVID-19.

While active cases have trended down in the last few weeks, local county officials and hospital officials are still urging residents to wear masks while in public, especially in indoor, crowded areas

“At this point, we’re just encouraging Rhea County residents to wear a mask,” Rhea County Executive George Thacker said. “We also are still encouraging social distancing, hand washing and staying home when you feel sick.”

Officials with Rhea Medical center recently spoke out about the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rhea County and also encouraged wearing masks, especially in enclosed spaces.

Rhea Medical Center Infection Preventionist Brandi Lytle also stressed the importance of wearing masks, especially in enclosed places where people are talking or singing.

“Wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing are the most effective thing you can do to stop from getting COVID-19 and stop others from giving it to you,” Lytle said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order declaring State of Emergency due to the pandemic is set to expire on Sept. 30. The State of Emergency was originally set to expire at the end of August, but Lee extended it until Sept. 30.

COVID-19 testing is till available at sites throughout Rhea County. To obtain a test, contact Rhea Medical Center’s Dr. Mercedes Payne at 365-4486, Dr. John Yager at 299-1390 or Torben Svendsen at 285-6240. Testing is also available at the Rhea County Health Department Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 11 a.m.