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Knox Co. Health Dept: Start practicing "social distance" now

The advice: stay six feet away from other people when you go out in public

The Knox County Health Department said people need to start practicing "social distance" to prepare for the coronavirus in our area. The measure encourages people to maintain six feet of separation between them and others while in public.

The county confirmed its first case of the virus on Thursday. 

"Try to limit personal contact so when you come together in a big crowd and you're sitting in a seat next to somebody — you can't do that," Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the health department, said. 

Doctors said the elderly and people with weaker immune systems are most at risk of the virus. 

But others could get sick and spread it to at-risk groups.

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One way to slow that spread: social distancing. 

Events across Knoxville also began to cancel on Thursday, in anticipation of COVID-19 spreading in the region. Schools announced closures as well. 

Buchanan said offices needed to develop plans for workers to telecommute and churches should plan for coronavirus as well.