Even as coronavirus trends begin to look very promising in some of the hardest-hit parts of Tennessee, the local trends — and, indeed, the trends across the state as a whole — remain unkind.
Scott County topped 50 active cases of coronavirus for the first time on Friday, as the TN Dept. of Health reported 11 new cases of the virus, and six new recoveries. Friday’s news came on the heels of Thursday’s report from the state health department, when a record 12 new cases were reported locally.
Neighboring Campbell County topped 100 active cases for the first time on Friday, as the Dept. of Health reported an increase of 19 active cases in a 24-hour period.
And in Knoxville, the nearest metropolitan area, active cases topped 2,000 on Friday, according to the Knox County Health Department. The agency reported 2,085 active cases, 40 of which were hospitalized.
Data analysis by the University of Tennessee shows that Scott County has one of the state’s highest coronavirus transmission rates. At 1.41, Scott County trails only Henry and Unicoi Counties, at 1.50 and 1.49, respectively. There have been 48 new cases of the virus reported in Scott County in the past seven days. During that timeframe, the testing positivity rate has been a whopping 13.2%.
The increase in cases isn’t necessarily a surprise. As the Independent Herald has reported for the past two weeks, multiple health care providers in Scott County were reporting increasing levels of sickness, even though Covid-19 test results were being delayed — in some cases by as much as two weeks. It was clear by mid July that when test results began to be returned, a relatively high percentage of them were likely to be positive.
Statewide, there were 3,068 new cases of Covid-19 illness reported on Friday, the highest number in almost a week. There were 2,123 new recoveries, marking the fifth straight day with more than 2,000 recoveries, but it wasn’t enough to off-set the high number of new infections. As a result, the number of active cases jumped to 38,542 — the highest so far.
Even still, that is a number that is largely unchanged over the course of the past five days. In fact, while the number of active cases in Tennessee has increased by 12% in the past week, that percentage continues to decline, week over week.
That’s largely driven by metropolitan areas — especially Nashville, which was the first of Tennessee’s large cities to implement a mask mandate. As of Friday, the number of active coronavirus cases in Davidson County was 4,612, down from more than 5,500 to begin the week. In Chattanooga and Hamilton County, the number of active cases has dropped from more than 1,900 to 1,685 in the past four days.
The number of active cases in Memphis continues to increase, but only slightly. And even in Knoxville, though the number of active cases topped 2,000 for the first time on Friday, the trends show the spread of the virus slowing. Hospitalizations in Knox County have stabilized, even though the same cannot be said for the rest of East Tennessee or the rest of the state. In fact, the 40 people hospitalized with Covid-19 illness in Knox County on Friday was fewer than the 45 people hospitalized with the virus on Monday.
As of Tuesday, the health care capacity capabilities had largely improved in the 13-county East Tennessee region, with more than 30% of hospital beds and 23% of ICU beds unoccupied. Just two weeks ago, fewer than 8% of ICU beds in the region were unoccupied. There are 19 hospitals in the region, many of them in Knoxville.