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Tri-Cities mayors, health officials: Area at 'tipping point' in COVID-19 battle

J.H. OSBORNE, Kingsport Times News • Updated Mar 26, 2020 at 1:05 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The relatively small numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region are no reason to ease up on basic steps that can prevent its spread, local health and government officials said Wednesday. In fact, due to spring break and other travelers returning to the region, it’s a critical time for slowing the spread.

“We are a tipping point,” Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine said. “We’re at a tipping point where we can begin to see community spread. We’re going to either contain it, or we’re going to see it accelerate.”

Community spread

“Community spread” is the term used to indicate the virus is being transmitted person-to-person, locally — rather than being detected in a person who has traveled outside the region. Community spread is typically followed by a spike in cases. Sullivan County Regional Health Department Medical Director Dr. Stephen May said that each confirmed infection potentially produces three more infections, which each can mean another three and so on.

Our partners at the Times News have more.

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