PERRY COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's not just big cities like Nashville that are dealing with COVID-19 concerns. Many rural counties are seeing major increases, including Perry County, where nearly 5% of the entire county's population has an active case.
"This is something I don’t think anybody, anybody foresaw," said Perry County Mayor John Carroll. "We were vigilant at the start and we may have let our guard down a little bit."
Carroll says it's been hard to fight off a virus that not everyone is taking seriously. "You had some who have taken it very seriously from the start, you have others that have been skeptical of it," he said.
A lot of the cases in Perry County are linked to outbreaks at Putnam County Medical Center and the Putnam County Nursing Home. The nursing home administrator tells NewsChannel 5 they do have positive cases but they're also seeing signs that the spread is being contained.
"They are working trying to do the deep clean and contain and isolate," said Mayor Carroll.
To help identify cases, the Perry County Health Department is offering free drive up testing around lunchtime, Monday - Friday. "We just wanted to be safe," said Meagan Potts, who received a free test Tuesday afternoon.
Potts had to drive from another county to get tested. She believes rural counties aren't getting enough support. "I feel like they look at it like the needs many outweigh the needs of the few, which is why rural areas are being put on the back burner," she said.
She also wishes more rural residents were open to wearing masks. In Perry County, it's just a recommendation - but one that comes with firsthand knowledge from Mayor Carroll. "To those who are skeptical, I can tell you from personal experience. I had it earlier in the spring, it is real, you don’t want it," he said.