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Sevier County sees spike in active COVID-19 cases, two weeks after Memorial Day weekend

Some locals are concerned the increase in cases comes from visitors, bringing the coronavirus with them on vacation unknowingly.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Sevier County saw its biggest spike yet Tuesday in active coronavirus cases. It's the biggest single-day increase since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Tennessee Department of Health reported that as of Tuesday, Sevier County has 65 active cases. That's up from 42 Monday, which is an increase of 29 active cases in one day.

Positive cases are up from 87 on June 1 to 158 on Tuesday.

A look at the Parkway in Sevier County tells you tourists are traveling from all over. That makes locals, like Pastor Billy J. Bailey uneasy.

"I think that's what has more people scared more than anything is you have people coming from other states that have more cases than us, and there is the concern: Are they bringing coronavirus on vacation with them?" Bailey said.

Once Sevier County opened back up for business in May, we saw people gathered in Gatlinburg, many not wearing masks.

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"You feel concerned that -- Are people behind me taking the same precautions that I am?'" Bailey said.

Now, two weeks after Memorial Day weekend, Sevier County saw the biggest spike in coronavirus cases so far.

A 50 percent increase from Sunday to Monday, 28 to 42, and even more cases, 29, reported on Tuesday.

"It was cause for concern," Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said. "I think we all realized that there could be the spikes as we move forward with opening up. I mean we said that from the beginning."

While Waters said it's difficult to pinpoint the exact reason they are seeing a spike, he's reminding locals and visitors to do their part to stop the spread.

"We don't know exactly what caused that," Waters explained. "You know, obviously it's a concern and we're just urging folks to follow the guidelines."

Bailey just hopes others are courteous of those around them.

"Leave a place better than you found it," Bailey encouraged. "I think that goes for whether you're on vacation or whether you live here."

Most businesses and attractions are back open in Sevier County. Waters said he doesn't want to discourage tourism at all. He just wants people to be aware of how they are feeling, as well as being mindful of others.

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