Answers to Monday’s Knox County Health Department Questions

Yesterday was Memorial Day, there was not a Knox County Health Department briefing. However, they did allow questions to be submitted by email. I had a few that had lingered, so I asked and here are the answers.

Q. Will you cite copies (with links) of the “science and data” that KCHD and Task Force are basing these decisions on. 

As a reminder, the decisions are made by KCHD. The Task Force serves an advisory role. KCHD’s decisions on reopening guidance are based on CDC guidelines and recommendations, the existing body of evidence for COVID-19 and public health expertise and experience.


Q. What scientific studies is the task force relying on that show wearing a mask prevents spreading of the virus? 


KCHD is following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that states that people should wear cloth face coverings in public where social distancing can’t be maintained. This recommendation is based on the evidence that show people can be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic; wearing a cloth face covering can help to prevent those individuals from unknowingly transmitting the virus. The CDC’s recommendations on cloth face coverings can be found here 

Q. Is it possible that some cases are counted twice? Could the same person being counted twice as some people have been tested multiple times and throughout the quarantine have been tested again and are still positive and counted multiple times? 

No, each positive case on our website represents a unique case.


Q. Have all 5 deaths in Knox County been true Covid deaths or did they just have covid at the time of death? Have all 38 hospitalizations been because they were hospitalized solely because of Covid, is it possible they got COVID while in the hospital, or was there another diagnosis in addition to COVID?


1) We report all deaths that have occurred in COVID-19 positive individuals that live in Knox County. The five Knox County individuals who died with COVID-19 had COVID-19 at the time of their death. Similar to influenza, the majority of people who pass away with the flu, actually die from complications associated with the flu. Several of these cases also had pre-existing conditions that can exacerbate the COVID-19 complications. 

2) If a positive case is hospitalized during our investigation or during their isolation period for any reason, they are counted as a hospitalization. This is why we use the phrase, “hospitalized at some point in their illness” on our website and in our daily updates. We have had cases become hospitalized in Knox County because of COVID-19. We have also had some individuals test positive for COVID-19 while in the hospital for another reason. However, at this time we haven’t had any cases link back to any known hospital exposures.


Q. In regards to task force member Ryan Steffy, in his May 19 email to Mike Donila of the Mayors Office, he communicated that the Mayors office were not educated or trained in the medical field. What education and training in the medical field does Mr. Steffy have? 


For questions regarding Mr. Steffy’s background, you will need to ask him.



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