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As case counts hit record highs, Knox Co. sees long lines for tests

The director of the county health department said wait-times have stretched to an hour or more.

The Knox County Health Department reported a record volume of people wanting tests for the coronavirus--and increased wait times as a result--as the county case count reached new highs Monday. 

The line of people waiting for tests stretched down the block Monday morning. It moved quickly, but still took about an hour. Health department director Martha Buchanan said her staff is working to increase throughput, but asked for those waiting in line to have patience. 

"We’ve seen a lot more people getting tested," she said. "One reason is we’ve had a lot more cases, which means a lot more contacts. So a lot of close contacts are coming to get tested which is what we wanted to see."

The health department screened roughly 300 people Friday, Buchanan said. On Thursday and again Monday, it had to cut off its line early to give staff time to process the days tests. 

The county reported a daily record number of new cases (53) and a record number of active cases (265) Monday, but Buchanan said that number may be low due to an unplanned shutdown of a state database. 

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"We know the numbers we have are solid. We know the positives we have are positive, but there could be positives out there we don’t know about," she said. 

Buchanan also began to issue guidance for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. 

"If you do choose to go to a cookout, you need to be able to maintain social distancing so make sure you keep the number down of the people going," she said. 

Knox Co. saw cases begin to break records after the Memorial Day holiday. 

In Knox County, you can find COVID-19 test sites using this tool. For other parts of Tennessee, please click here