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'Do your part' | Sevier County residents ask visitors to be respectful, wear masks as coronavirus cases rise

In the past ten days, more than 200 people who live in Sevier County has tested positive for COVID-19.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn — When Bob Conley woke up on June 8, something didn't feel quite right. By mid-morning, he was experiencing chills, a low fever, headache, stomach ache and vomiting.

"It was pretty bad," he said. "It was that way until Wednesday morning."

At that point, he visited an urgent care clinic where he was tested for COVID-19. On June 12, his results came back: positive.

"I always wear my mask and keep my distance," he said. "It could have been the grocery store for all I know."

A week later, Conley said he's feeling much better. 

"I'm doing great right now," he said. "I feel very blessed that I didn't get sick like a lot of other folks did... I just had a mild case."

As he watches groups of people visit his home — Gatlinburg — each weekend, he wishes they'd be more respectful of others.

In the last ten days, more than 200 people who live in Sevier County have tested positive for COVID-19.

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"It's disturbing seeing all these folks coming in from out of town and not worrying about wearing a mask or trying to keep some distance," he said. "We just stay away from it."

In Pigeon Forge, Keshia Sutton is hoping people will be more respectful, too. She and her partner drive all over the county to deliver food through apps like Grubhub, UberEats and Door Dash.

"Nobody is following the rules. Nobody's wearing masks and everybody just all in a group," Sutton said. "It's ridiculous... do your part."

The New York Times has been keeping track of where outbreaks might come next. As of Friday morning, the Sevierville area was listed as fifth in the country for the highest average daily growth rate of cases.

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"To identify places that could flare up next, it’s helpful to look not just at the number of cases but how fast they are rising," the authors wrote. "Communities with a lot of cases and a high growth rate are on track to have a serious problem."

Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee's Health Commissioner, said Friday marked a record testing day for the state.

"The number of positives today is not surprising and shows the continued trend of metropolitan areas showing a higher concentration of cases," she said. "We are closely tracking our hospital capacity in collaboration with our hospital partners and feel confident with how capacity continues to remain stable.”

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