The TN Dept. of Health reported a new case of coronavirus in Scott County on Tuesday, the 12th in the past seven days and the 30th overall. There are now 14 active cases of the virus locally.
As the number of cases has grown over the past week, so has the rate of tests that are returning positive. As of July 7, there had been a total of 1,280 people tested for coronavirus in Scott County dating back to March. Of those, just 18 — or 1.4% — had returned positive.
In the past week, however, 12 of the 162 tests that have been conducted in Scott County have returned positive — a positivity rate of 7.4%.
The issue of rising testing positivity has been seen across Tennessee as well, which blows holes in the theory that additional Covid-19 cases are turning up only because of increased testing. At one point in early May, fewer than 5% of tests conducted in the Volunteer State returned positive. Now, however, that percentage is significantly higher.
The Dept. of Health reported nearly 18,000 new test results from across the state on Tuesday, of which 8.4% returned positive with 1,514 new cases reported. The rate of testing positivity has been 8.9% over the past week, and 6.9% since June 1.
Rising rates of testing positivity is a red flag that not enough testing is being conducted to detect all the cases of coronavirus. The World Health Organization recommends a test positivity rate below 5%.
Even as Tennessee’s testing positivity rises, the sheer number of tests being performed is causing backlogs at labs that are increasing the wait time for results. Both in Scott County and in other parts of the state, turnaround times for test results have increased to a week or longer in some instances. The result, some health care professionals fear, is cases of coronavirus that are going undiagnosed — a fear that is manifested by rising numbers of people exhibiting symptoms at clinics. On Tuesday, only three new test results were reported in Scott County.
As Tennessee’s active number of coronavirus cases rises, the number of people being hospitalized is up, too. The Dept. of Health reports 94 new coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since late April. And after several days of decline, the number of current hospitalizations is up to 864, the most since the pandemic reached Tennessee. There are another 103 patients in the hospital for whom test results are being awaited. Since June 1, about 3.7% of new coronavirus cases in Tennessee have required hospitalization.
The state also reports 18 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of people who have died of Covid-19 in Tennessee to at least 767. There have been 102 people who have died of coronavirus in the state in the past week, the most in a single 7-day period since the pandemic began. Since the virus reached the Volunteer State, 1.1% of known cases have resulted in death. Since June 1, 0.9% of known cases have resulted in death.
The outbreaks of coronavirus continue to appear to be stabilizing in Morristown and Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg, two of East Tennessee’s original hotspots for the virus. Hamblen County has dropped to 228 active cases, while Sevier County has dropped to 297 active cases.
But taking their place may be the Tri-Cities. New cases are blossoming in both Sullivan and Washington counties. Both have surpassed 100 active cases in the past 48 hours and are now at 121 and 146 active cases, respectively. Neighboring Carter County is up to 63 active cases.
Elsewhere, there isn’t much positive news to report as the pandemic continues to pick up steam in Tennessee. Anderson County, which neighbors Scott County to the southeast, hit 100 active cases for the first time on Tuesday, and currently has 101. After a few days of declining active cases, Knox County’s number is rising again — up to 966, as reported by the TN Dept. of Health. The Knox County Health Dept. reports 839 active cases, up 45 from Monday. There are 40 Knox County residents hospitalized with Covid-19, down one in the past 24 hours. The Knox County Health Dept. reported another coronavirus death on Tuesday, the 14th overall.
Across the state’s 95 counties, only seven have fewer than 10 active cases, down from 14 just 48 hours ago. All are tiny counties with small populations. Hancock County (pop. 6,549) has nine active cases, Unicoi County (pop. 17,883) has eight active cases, Benton County (pop. 16,184) and Lake County (pop. 7,411) each have seven active cases, Lewis County (pop. 12,086) and Van Buren County (5,765) each have six active cases, and Pickett County (pop. 5,082) has two active cases.
Thirty-two of the state’s 95 counties have at least 100 active cases, up from 25 two days ago. And 53 of 95 counties have at least 50 active cases. Scott, Morgan, Fentress and Pickett counties are among just 19 across the state with fewer than 25 active cases.