Scott County has a second active case of coronavirus, and County Mayor Jeff Tibbals is urging Scott Countians to do their part to thwart the spread of the virus.
The TN Dept. of Health announced the new case — Scott County’s 15th overall, and the first in 13 days — on Wednesday. The new local case came on the same day that the Dept. of Health announced more than 1,800 new cases statewide, a new record for the most infections in a 24-hour period.
With Wednesday’s announcement, there are now more than 16,400 active cases of coronavirus across Tennessee — a new high. One month ago, on June 1, there were 7,623 active cases. The number of active cases has increased 115% in the past month. The number of active cases had increased 7.3% in just 24 hours as of Wednesday afternoon.
If there is good news, it is that the number of deaths related to the virus is still holding steady. In fact, the Dept. of Health reported just five Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, the lowest in a 24-hour period in more than three weeks. There have now been a total of at least 609 Tennesseans who have died of coronavirus.
An increase in deaths seems likely to be coming, due to the ever-increasing number of hospitalizations. While Tennessee’s rate of hospitalizations is decreasing, the sheer number of new infections is leading to a higher number of cumulative hospitalizations. Another 50 hospitalizations were reported by the Dept. of Health on Wednesday, and there are now 574 people in the hospital. That’s the highest number of active hospitalizations thus far, and is 22% higher than just one week ago.
Historically, about 1 in 5 people requiring hospitalization for coronavirus in Tennessee have not survived. If the current surge in hospitalizations is going to translate into an increase in deaths, that will likely be seen in the coming days. Tennessee has averaged 54 new hospitalizations per day for each of the past seven days.
As for the rate of hospitalization, the number of hospitalizations in the past week represents 4.2% of the state’s new cases. That’s hardly scientific; there is a lag time between diagnoses and hospitalization in serious cases. However, the rate of hospitalization since June 1 is just 4.3%. At one point in the spring, Tennessee’s hospitalization rate was greater than 10%. Overall, the state’s hospitalization rate is 6.0%.
The rate of hospitalization is important, because hospitalizations are widely regarded by many health experts to be the best metric for determining the severity of the viral outbreak. While the rising number of cumulative hospitalizations means the number of patients being admitted to the hospital is rising faster than the number of patients being released, patients are slightly less likely to require hospitalization now than earlier in the pandemic. That may be because the virus is losing some of its potency, as some studies abroad have suggested, or it could be because increased testing is catching more mild or asymptomatic cases. Some states, such as Florida, are experiencing much higher numbers of younger patients testing positive. That does not appear to be the case in Tennessee, where the age demographic breakdown of new cases has remained steady. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people in their 20s are the most likely to test positive, followed by people in their 30s and then people in their 40s. The very old, the most likely to suffer from serious illness related to coronavirus, are the least likely to contract the disease, likely because of the precautions being taken to protect them.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s testing positivity rate continues to be elevated, a sign that the surge in new cases is not simply a result of an increase in testing. A whopping 24,743 new test results were reported Wednesday — the most in a single day thus far — with 7.3% of those being positive. Since the pandemic began, 5.5% of Tennessee’s tests have been positive. That’s a percentage that’s increasing, however. As of June 1, it was 5.3%. For the past two weeks, it’s been 7.6% — not a significant increase, but a detectable increase nevertheless.
With Wednesday’s new data, there are 53 active cases in Scott and neighboring Tennessee counties — the most thus far. And while new cases aren’t exploding in either county, Anderson and Campbell counties account for 42 of those active cases — 33 in Anderson County and nine in Campbell County. There are four active cases in Fentress County, three in Morgan County and two in Pickett County.
There have been four people die of coronavirus in the region, including two in Anderson County, one in Campbell County and one in Morgan County.
“Scott County’s numbers may look good when compared to other counties, but there are a lot of citizens traveling to Covid ‘hotspots,’ Tibbals said Wednesday.
The mayor went on to urge citizens to heed health experts’ advise on wearing face coverings.
“Even though it may be inconvenient, wear a mask when in the company of others,” Tibbals said. “Nineteen major medical institutions have conducted trials on the effectiveness of masks. Results were consistent with an 85% reduction in the spread of Covid-19 while wearing masks.”
Tibbals also provided several other safety suggestions, including:
• Avoid touching your nose and mouth
• Stay home when sick
• Wash hands frequently
• Cover coughs and sneezes
• Avoid contact with those that are sick
• Practice social distancing
The state’s data continues to show a troubling rise of coronavirus cases in Knoxville, which is a major economic link for Scott County. While Knoxville has been the least impacted by coronavirus out of Tennessee’s major metropolitan areas, the city is seeing a surge of new cases. As of Wednesday, the state Dept. of Health reported 393 active cases in Knox County. The Knox County Health Department, which operates independently of the state health department, is reporting significantly fewer active cases: just 271. The disparity is largely because Knox County is reporting far more recovered patients than the state. There are 13 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in Knox County, down from 18 on Sunday.
Sevier County, another major travel destination within the state for Scott Countians, is also seeing a rise in active cases. There were 266 active cases there as of Wednesday.
By the numbers: 817,522 people have been tested for coronavirus in Tennessee, or 120 per 1,000 people. In Scott County, 1,200 people have been tested, or 55 per 1,000 people.
• 5.5% (45,315) of the tests have returned positive, including 7.3% (1,806) of the 24,743 new test results reported Wednesday. In Scott County, 1.3% (15) of the tests have returned positive.
• 6.0% (2,715) of the positive cases have required hospitalization, including 50 new hospitalizations reported Wednesday.
• Tennessee’s 609 deaths equates to 22.4% of the hospitalizations.
• 1.3% (609) of Tennessee’s known coronavirus cases have ended in death — a percentage that is declining.
• 62.4% (45,315) of people diagnosed with coronavirus in Tennessee have recovered, including 684 new recoveries reported Wednesday. In Scott County, 86.7% (13) of people diagnosed with coronavirus have recovered.
• There are 16,423 active coronavirus cases in Tennessee, including 2 in Scott County.