Hamilton County Health Department increasing COVID-19 testing
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)-As COVID cases continue to surge in Hamilton County there is an increased demand for COVID testing.
Becky Barnes with the Hamilton County Health Department says just 44 percent of Hamilton County is vaccinated. Active COVID cases have surged 480 percent in the past month.
She said hospitalization and deaths have also increased this month
“So far this month which is 20 days in the month so far we have 24 deaths. That’s a 200% increase and the month hasn’t ended,” said Barnes.
The Hamilton County Health Department is expanding its COVID testing program by adding the Everlywell PCR test which is a self-administered COVID test taken at the Tennessee Riverpark Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 3 PM.
“These are, have been used across the state and other regions and have been well excepted. The self-collecting specimens require less staff,” said Barnes.
New data from the Tennessee Hospital Association shows only 10 ICU beds available in Chattanooga.
“The way I understand from our hospitals’ partners it is so fluid and so changing because in the sense that those are staffed beds and if they need to staff additional beds and open up they have those resources,” said Barnes.
Barnes as well as many other health experts continue to remind people vaccines are the best defense against COVID-19.
“We do see breakthrough cases. That is when a fully vaccinated gets infected but data is still showing that even if the vaccine is not totally protective from illness it does still have very good protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” said Barnes.
Barnes also recommends wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status due to the amount of cases.