Hancock County now has a confirmed case of the coronavirus, and with that, the virus has reached every corner of the state. Today the Tennessee Department of Health reported 367 new cases, four new fatalities and nine new hospitalizations.
The mayor of Hancock County, Tom Harrison, told USA Today this week that the virus has “had trouble finding us” because “you either have to go over a ridge or a mountain.”
“You have to have us on your mind to get here,” Harrison said of his Appalachian community on the Kentucky state line, population 6,500. The county seat of Sneedville is 40 minutes from any other town. There is no Walmart and just a single grocery store.
An analysis by the Tennessean found that Hancock also had the worst testing rate in the state. However, the Tennessee Department of Health’s regional medical director says it’s not for a shortage of tests, but rather a lack of people showing up to be tested.
Hancock had been one of just 200 counties nationwide without a single confirmed case of COVID-19, with many of the locations west of the Mississippi River where population can be even more sparse.