Monroe County and the State of Tennessee as a whole have continued seeing increases in coronavirus case numbers over recent weeks and Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram addressed that rise recently.

The current number of COVID-19 cases, as of Monday, was 366 in the county.

“We have seen more testing and we have seen more positive cases,” said Ingram. “The more activity that we see with people out in the community we are seeing a huge increase in cases.”

Another factor contributing to the increase of cases is due to the amount of people traveling for vacations, according to Ingram.

“We are just encouraging people to use good hygiene and social distance,” he noted. “We are monitoring every single day, there are no individual hotspots or isolated locations, it is very spread out with a case here or a case there.”

He stated the health care providers are currently “maxed out” with the amount of testing being performed in the county.

“Chota has been testing almost all day, every day so we are just seeing a lot of testing and, unfortunately, the results of those tests,” Ingram said. “Our trend is just like every other county, we are seeing an increase every day but we expected to see some of these increases, like two weeks after the 4th of July.”

He stated that he does not plan to change his current mandate on the use of masks in public.

“I believe it should be the community’s decision,” Ingram stated. “I don’t think forcing a mandate is right. For one, it is unenforceable and I believe they should have the right to choose.”

He noted that his office will continue to monitor the situation with the virus and, if the situation becomes dire enough, his decision on the mandate could change.

“We are monitoring the situation and if a serious situation were to occur then we would certainly look back into it,” Ingram noted. “The closest counties, I believe, with that mandate are Hamilton, Sevier and Knox, but everyone else is not forcing that mandate.”

Another topic that has been heavily discussed of late is the reopening of schools and concerns over the spread of the virus there and how to make a potential mix of in-person and virtual schooling work. He stated that his office will be closely monitoring the virus upon the reopening of schools.

“I think it is inevitable that we are going to have cases because of the masses coming back together,” Ingram said. “I think our school system has done a tremendous job in coordinating the school health and laying out the plan to welcome students and staff back as well as virtual education. They have tremendous maintenance staff that will provide a clean environment, but it will certainly be a challenge and we will monitor it day by day.”

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