CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – To stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 numbers in Hamilton County, including the total number of cases, number of active cases, deaths, and case demographics, click here. Hamilton County Health Department-affiliated drive-thru testing is also still free to the public everyday at the Alstom Plant

The Hamilton County Health Department’s Alstom Plant COVID-19 testing center will have new testing hours starting today, Dec. 2. The center will now provide COVID-19 testing from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. to accommodate staff and patients during the colder weather.

 The month of November was the deadliest month for COVID-19 in Hamilton County, with 44 county residents dying from the virus. This death record surpasses the previous record of 27 local COVID-19-related deaths from August. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, this upward trend in cases and deaths may continue due to the Thanksgiving holiday and the upcoming Christmas holiday.

We’re on month eight of the pandemic in the United States now, and we aren’t the first to say that it’s not getting any easier. Covid fatigue is hitting hard, but this article from Dr. Paul Hendricks from the Hamilton County Health Department helps to put things in perspective — Dr. Hendricks writes about the multiple vaccines in development, specifically two that are being reported as 95% effective + appear to be “very safe.

○ Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order calling for many city buildings to remain closed until further notice. The buildings include City Hall, the City Hall Annex, and the City offices within the Development Resource Center, libraries, and YFD Centers as well as restrictions to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Tivoli, and Memorial Auditorium.

○ The Chattanooga location of research company Wake Research, ClinSearch, is conducting trials of a new drug in Chattanooga to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The drug is supposed to work faster than a vaccine + act as preventative therapy to people who have been directly exposed to COVID-19. The drug is also being tested in three other cities nationwide.

The World Health Organization is saying that children aged six to eleven should wear face masks in some cases to help fight the spread of COVID-19 as schools are starting back nationwide. The WHO said that decisions regarding children wearing a mask should consider factors like whether transmission is widespread in the area, the child’s ability to safely use a mask, and adult supervision when taking the masks on or off.

○ Tennesseans who test positive for COVID-19 or are isolating with a household member who has tested positive could be asked to quarantine for a longer period of time under new state guidelines. The 14-day quarantine process for residents living with an infected person would not start until after day 10 of isolation — based on the onset of symptoms that could be a total of 24 days.

○ Health experts, including CHI Memorial Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Mark Anderson, are warning citizens about superspreading eventswhere a single person can infect a large number of people with COVID-19 in one setting. A superspreader can transmit the virus to between 10 and 20 people, and potentially more, at one gathering. Dr. Anderson and other experts believe superspreading events drive most COVID-19 spreadand precautions like masking + social distancing will work to get the virus under control.

Check out this “Ask a Doctor” article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press to read what to know about asthma and face masks. According to Dr. Susan Raschal, anyone with stable asthma who is not experiencing an exacerbation does not have a facial deformity, does not have sensory processing issues, and is over two years old should be wearing face masks at this time.

○ Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III says mask mandates are legally defensible. Slatery equates mask mandates to seat belt laws + helmet requirements for motorcyclists. Read more about Slatery’s views on mask mandates.

 Are you wondering what, exactly, is contact tracing? Check out this “Ask a Doctor” article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press about what contact tracing is and the steps that are involved within the contact tracing process.

○ After gaining new evidence from the CDC, the Hamilton County Health Department will now end the isolation period for most adults sick with COVID-19 10 days (previously 14) after symptom onset if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication + other symptoms have improved. For those who never developed symptoms, isolation and other precautions can be stopped 10 days after their first positive RT-PCR test was collected.