CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – Recent Hamilton County Health Department data show an increase in new COVID-19 cases among the 11-20 year-old age-band. Case investigations reveal many of these new transmissions are epi-linked to social gatherings such as field trips, parties, sporting events, carpooling, and close contact with friends.

“The biggest change in new COVID-19 positive cases is in the 11-20 age band,” said Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes. “Although young people have less risk of serious complications from COVID-19, they can spread it to their parents and grandparents who are at greater risk of hospitalization or death.”

Parents can help keep their children and others safe from COVID-19 by monitoring their children for COVID-19 symptoms; keeping children home if symptoms develop; following the guidance set forth by their schools; and consulting specific sport safety guidance provided by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA).

Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about ways to minimize transmission risk while participating in extracurricular activities. Transmission risk can be minimized by:

  • Wearing a mask when around others, including in a shared vehicle or bus.
  • Maintaining six feet distance from people who don’t live in the same household.
  • Washing hands frequently.
  • Not sharing water bottles or other food or drink items.

The upcoming Labor Day holiday traditionally sees large gatherings for picnics, extended family reunions, and buffet-style food servings. However, all of these types of events greatly increase everyone’s risk for spreading the virus. The Health Department hopes to avoid spikes in new cases as were seen following both the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.

This year, limit gatherings to your household members, stay at home so as not to overcrowd public spaces, clean hands and surfaces frequently, and consolidate errands.

Pre-symptomatic people are infectious to others up to two days prior to developing symptoms. Some people do not exhibit any symptoms during their infectious period, but can still pass the virus on to others. For this reason, it is vitally important to avoid large gatherings at this time, wear a mask when in public, and practice safe distancing of at least 6 feet from others outside your household unit.

If you are sick with any COVID-19 symptoms, isolate at home, do not go out or invite others over.