McMinn County has recently encountered an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

According to McMinn County Mayor John Gentry, the entire country has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“It doesn’t discriminate based on community,” said Gentry. “Whether you are a lockdown community or wide open it seems to be making its way through ... I think the one characteristic of this virus is its confusing nature, so it is a difficult challenge for everyone trying to lead through these times.”

Gentry noted there was a recent study looking at the effects lockdowns have caused on individuals.

“Across the nation, due to the stringent visiting restrictions, health is deteriorating among the health of residents in nursing homes because of how important human interaction is,” Gentry noted. “Family members are caregivers as well as they come in and provide that loving touch, so I think it is becoming very well documented that the isolation is having a real negative health effect on those people.”

Another issue pertaining to the pandemic is the alteration of daily life activities.

“Everyone knows that they are to limit exposure and it is just extremely difficult trying to find a balance that allows people to keep living and make a living and do it in a safe manner,” he noted. “I know the number has come down in the last couple of days but this is a very difficult process that the whole nation is going through.”

He noted the county has spent “a lot of money” to make their facilities safer for visitors.

“Our maintenance crews are in the process of even converting our sinks and things touchless here in the courthouse just to make things safer for people so they don’t have to touch anything,” said Gentry. “We want to do anything that we can do to minimize high touch areas and you are seeing that a lot in businesses as well.”

Gentry stated his current concern with the pandemic is the seasonal change to colder weather.

“Colder weather leads to more indoor activity as we shift outdoor to indoor,” Gentry noted. “My concern is that we make sure that people are cognizant of where they are entering and where they are spending a lot of time with others in a close proximity.”

Outdoor activities provided additional safety to groups of people as they had room to practice social distancing.

“The spread seems to be happening from having prolonged exposure indoors with people over 10 minutes,” he said. “That seems to be the highest risk for spread and I don’t think that has changed.”

He praised the school system for its efforts in limiting the amount of exposure the students face while indoors.

“It seems that the schools have handled the situation by taking as much caution as they can and still try to educate,” Gentry expressed. “I want to urge caution. There seems to be some fatigue going around about this virus, in dealing with it, but there is a lot that can fight this disease whether it be masks, social distancing or use of hand sanitizer.”

Gentry also reminded people to make sure to take care of their basic health in addition to the pandemic precautions.

“What I think we have seen truly fight this disease is a really good immune system,” Gentry stated. “A lot of our health is based on how we live our lives and exercise, so I believe those who have healthier immune systems through proper life choices have the best defense against COVID.”

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