Dr. Stephen May: Novel coronavirus cases doubling in Sullivan County weekly

Local Coronavirus Coverage

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Regional Medical Director Dr. Stephen May laid out the novel coronavirus numbers for city officials at the Tuesday night Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting.

According to May, case counts have doubled every week for the past four weeks in Sullivan County.

“This time last week, [Sullivan County] was at 200 cases; today, we’re at 444,” May said. “And it’s still counting as we go up.

“Fortunately, our death rate in Sullivan County is only about 1.3%. We’ve had six deaths so far. We had 26 plus in the hospital, 16 in the intensive care unit fighting on ventilators. So, we’re starting to feel the full effects of the disease in our community.”

The Sullivan County Regional Health Department continues working with the Kingsport City School system to establish guidelines once school doors open in the fall.

According to a Kingsport City School spokesperson, the school system will update its guideline status every Friday at 10 a.m. once the year launches.

May’s concern surrounds the risk of further novel coronavirus exposure by children returning home to high-risk people.

“We have to worry about them as our little super-spreaders…the real concern is their ability to spread the disease by sometimes being asymptomatic,” May said.

Kingsport City Schools along with Sullivan County Schools have worked alongside the health department for weeks to determine reopening guidelines, and amid the recent case spikes, May fears the schools might be reopening during what the department calls a “red light zone.”

“We have come out with a plan as far as guidance as how schools can potentially reopen,” May said. “It was graded in a red, yellow, green light fashion. And currently, we would be opening up in a red condition, so that would be the most limiting situation, so [we’re] looking at extensive online learning, maintaining distancing, and smaller classroom sizes.”

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