The state health department confirmed recently that Rhea County has recorded its second death to COVID-19.

To date, the recent death marks the second fatal case of COVID-19; the county has seen 538 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 420 recoveries. The name of the second COVID-19 fatality was not released as of press time Tuesday.

Both state and Rhea County officials are still urging residents to be cautious.

Rhea County Executive George Thacker said the county was monitoring the number of cases in Rhea County and encouraged county residents to wear a mask when out in the community.

“At this point, we’re just encouraging Rhea County residents to wear a mask,” 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.

State officials are also monitoring the recent rise in COVID-19 throughout the state. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee recently signed Executive Order No. 50 to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to Aug. 29, 2020. The order allows the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures in these orders to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 51 and 52, which extend provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, respectively, to Aug. 29, 2020.

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. Teseting is also available at the Rhea County Health Department Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 11 a.m.