As the number of active cases of coronavirus in Tennessee continues to surge, the state surpassed 20,000 active cases on Sunday, to end the holiday weekend. But hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus are not seeing marked increases. In Scott County, there are three active cases of coronavirus.
The TN Dept. of Health on Sunday reported 1,291 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the number of active cases to 20,531 — topping 20,000 for the first time. One week ago, there were fewer than 14,000 active cases of the virus in the state. The number of active cases has almost doubled — from just under 11,000 to more than 20,500 — in the past 15 days.
The Dept. of Health reported nine coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, and only 11 new hospitalizations. It was the lowest number of daily hospitalizations reported by the state since June 22. Since that time, more than 50 people had been hospitalized each day, on average, for coronavirus.
Hospitalizations were down for the entire weekend, according to the Dept. of Health’s data. In fact, for the 48 hours since Friday afternoon, a total of only 46 hospitalizations had been reported. It was not clear how much the holiday weekend played into the data being reported.
While coronavirus-related hospitalizations have been elevated as the state’s number of infected has risen, the rate of hospitalization has not increased. Since June 1, the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 illness in Tennessee equates to 4.0% of the total number of coronavirus cases that have been diagnosed. Prior to June 1, the rate of hospitalization was 7.6%. Those numbers suggest that the increase in hospitalizations — current coronavirus hospitalizations across the state stood at 660 on Thursday, with test results awaited on another 289 hospitalized patients who were suffering from Covid-19 symptoms — is due to the surge in new cases of the virus rather than a worsening of its severity.
Still, the sheer number of hospitalized patients lends itself to an expectation that Tennessee will experience a surge in deaths that are attributed to the virus. Since the pandemic began, between 1 in 5 and 1 in 4 patients who have required hospitalization in Tennessee have not survived.
So far, though, that surge hasn’t been realized. There have been an average of nine coronavirus-related deaths per day in Tennessee over the past two weeks — a number that is high, for sure, but not a marked increase from earlier in the pandemic, when the total numbers of cases and hospitalizations were much lower. Since June 1, in fact, Tennessee’s coronavirus case-fatality ratio is just 1.0%. Prior to June 1, it was 1.6%.
That case-fatality ratio since June 1 deserves an asterisk, since the number of people being hospitalized for the virus rose sharply in the last two weeks of the month, and there is significant lag time between diagnoses and deaths in severe cases of Covid-19.
Still, many people’s focus is on the increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus, and what it might lead to. The increase is not solely due to increased testing; the percentage of tests returning positive has risen from sub-5% to more than 7%. Since June 1, the rate of positivity with Tennessee’s coronavirus tests has been 6.2% — including 7.8% over the last two weeks. Prior to June 1, it was 5.3%.
On Thursday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order giving county mayors in the state’s 89 counties that operate under health directives from the TN Dept. of Health the authority to require residents to wear masks. It is not anticipated that many county mayors in rural Tennessee will take advantage of that authority. Masks are required in the state’s three largest cities, however. Knox County last week joined Nashville and Memphis in requiring masks. However, the move was controversial; it was dictated by the Knox County Board of Health, a non-elected panel, and was blasted by County Mayor Glenn Jacobs as unconstitutional. Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler has indicated that his law enforcement officers will not enforce the order.
In Scott County, there remains three active cases of coronavirus. All of them were reported by the Dept. of Health on Friday. The number of active cases in the region continues to increase, however. As of Sunday afternoon, Anderson County was up to 66 active cases of the virus, while Campbell County had 15 active cases and Fentress County had eight active cases. Each of those three counties were at their highest number of active cases thus far. Additionally, there were five active cases in Morgan County and two in Pickett County, for a total of 99 in Scott and neighboring Tennessee counties — also the most thus far.
In Knox County, the number of active cases had risen to 425 — a new high — as of Sunday afternoon. And there were 20 people hospitalized with the virus in Knoxville as of Sunday, also a record high. The county also reported two new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total to eight.
As has been the case across the state, people in their 20s are the most likely to test positive for coronavirus in Knox County, accounting for 28% of the county’s total number of Covid-19 cases. However, less than 3% of people diagnosed with coronavirus in Knox County under the age of 45 have been hospitalized.
Other troublesome East Tennessee hotspots continue to see their coronavirus cases increase, as well. Sevier County is up to 355 active cases and Hamblen County is up to 181 active cases of the virus. Next-door to Knoxville, Blount County is up to 89 active cases. Further south, Hamilton County is seeing its number of active cases slowly increase again, now up to 943, and new cases are blossoming in neighboring Bradley County, which had 334 active cases as of Sunday. To the west, there were 267 active cases in Putnam County as of Sunday. A bit closer to home, Roane County is experiencing a concerning surge of new cases, and had 25 active cases as of Sunday.
By the numbers: 895,796 people have been tested for coronavirus in Tennessee, or 132 per 1,000 people. In Scott County, 1,268 people have been tested, or 58 per 1,000 people.
• 5.7% (51,431) of those tests have returned positive, including 7.3% (1,291) of the 17,566 new test results reported Sunday. In Scott County, 1.3% (17) of the tests have returned positive.
• 5.6% (2,871) of Tennessee’s positive cases have required hospitalization, a percentage that is dropping. That includes 11 new hospitalizations reported Sunday.
• Tennessee’s 646 coronavirus-related deaths equates to 22.5% of the hospitalizations, a percentage that is holding steady.
• 1.3% of Tennessee’s known coronavirus cases have resulted in death, a percentage that is declining. That includes nine new Covid-19 deaths reported Sunday.
• 58.8% (30,254) of people diagnosed with coronavirus in Tennessee have recovered, a percentage that is declining, including 211 new recoveries reported Sunday.
• There are 20,531 active cases of coronavirus in Tennessee, the most thus far. There are three active cases in Scott County.