As of press time Friday, there have been 220 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rhea County, and county and state officials are urging residents to still take precautions as businesses begin to open up.
“We did see that big spike in cases a while back, but I think things are looking better now,” Rhea County Executive George Thacker said. “Things are opening up now, so just be safe, wash your hands, and if you’re sick, stay at home.”
Rhea County saw few COVID-19 cases throughout the first of the year, but spiked toward the end of May with an outbreak at a farm on Evensville Mountain.
Recently, members of the community, along with United Way of Rhea County and Rhea Medical center, received donations and held a clothing drive to support the farming community that has been quarantined at the farm during the outbreak.
Those items were delivered to the farm on Wednesday, while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“This was a full community project, and we want each of you to know and see just how generous you are,” Rhea County United Way Executive Director Christine Ralph said. “[We want to also give] a shout out to both Our Daily Bread in Spring City and We Care Thrift Store in Dayton for adding to the donations.”
Ralph said when making the donations, volunteers remained in the truck for safe distancing and workers at the farm transferred the donated items to a work truck to take to the farmers. She said Items will be rewashed before being given to the workers.
Officials with Henderson Farm recently sent a letter to local officials and organizations, thanking them for the community support.
“As proud and longstanding members of this community, we want to thank you and our other local Rhea County leaders for the work you’ve been doing in recent months to help keep our community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” farm officials said. “These have been hard times for our community, and like many others in Rhea County, our family farm has also been directly impacted by the pandemic.”
Officials said that farm workers have been quarantined at the farm and have not left the farm since the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, officials said that workers are constantly being provided updates from public health officials, are being monitored for symptoms and have been given additional cleaning supplies.
Tennessee Gove. Bill Lee has been gradually releasing guidelines for businesses that are reopening and resuming non-contact sports. The state has also released guidelines for limited visitation at assisted living facilities.
“We’re able to continue reopening our state thanks to the sustained efforts by Tennesseans to social distance and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Lee said. “It’s important we continue to take personal responsibility for our health and the health of our neighbors, while recognizing and honoring the need for Tennesseans to get back to work and support their families.”
Recent orders permit more Tennesseans and businesses to return to work in all industries where that can be safely accomplished by following health guidelines and maintaining social distancing from persons outside of your household, while continuing to urge employers to allow or require remote work/telework if possible.
Those orders also include requirements with respect to social and recreational gatherings, such as festivals, fairs, parades, large parties or picnics, , summer camps and other types of social or recreational gatherings. Orders also focus on the importance of social distancing from persons outside your household and avoiding social/recreational groups of 50 or more persons.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there have been 28,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the state, with 18,922 recoveries and 441 deaths.