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Most clusters of COVID-19 in Knox County are from community spread

Community spread can include everything from religious gatherings to a backyard cookout at your home.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — You hear a lot about clusters when health officials are talking about the spread of COVID-19 in a community. 

A cluster is defined as two or more cases related to one location outside a household. The Knox Co. Health Dept. doesn't release specific information about clusters unless there is a community health threat related to it. That would come only if they were unable to track all of those who may have been exposed at that location.

Dr. Martha Buchanan, Director of the Knox Co. Health Dept., said local clusters have infected anywhere from two to forty or more people.

You will also hear a lot about community spread, which is how most people who are infected with COVID-19 in Knox County are getting it. That includes things like dinner parties and cookouts at people's homes or even church services.

Community clusters would also include cases spread in educational settings.

According to a new graphic from the Tennessee Dept. of Health, Knox Co. has had 36 clusters of community spread since the pandemic began. No further details about these clusters will be released. They are shown in brown in the graphic below.

Credit: TN Dept. of Health
Graphic showing COVID-19 clusters in Knox Co.

Clusters can also be related to nursing homes (light blue), assisted care facilities (red), or other healthcare facilities (black). In the last two weeks, Knox County has added three new clusters in those types of settings.

There have been a few clusters in other facilities, which include daycares and mental health facilities.

There have been a few clusters since the pandemic began related to restaurants (orange), construction (yellow) or industrial settings (dark blue).

As students return to school and extracurricular activities, Dr. Buchanan reminded parents about another risk for community spread--- kids' sporting events.

If your kids are playing, she wanted to remind parents to continue the five core actions that are central to slowing the spread of COVID-19: wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands frequently, cleaning & sanitizing areas, and staying home if you are sick.

"We know it can be exciting," she said. "But don't be huddled together, Keep your chair six feet apart. You'll still be able to talk and cheer," she said. "If you or your child aren't feeling well, sit this game out. It's better to miss a game or two than spread the virus."