Although Tennessee topped 40,000 active cases of coronavirus cases for the first time on Sunday, the growth of the state’s active cases slowed to its lowest point in more than two months.
For the Sunday-to-Sunday period of July 26 through August 2, Tennessee’s active cases of Covid-19 illness grew just 4.8%. That’s the lowest since the week of May 17 through May 24, when the number of active cases declined by more than 6%, before the latest surge of new cases began.
One week ago, the number of active cases grew by 16%. The week before that, active cases were up 30%. In the worst week, June 28 through July 5, the number of active coronavirus cases in Tennessee increased by 39.3%. The week just ended marked the first week with single-digit percentage growth of active cases since the week of June 14-21, when active cases were up 7.9%.
Additionally, the growth of Tennessee’s new coronavirus cases slowed to a six-week low for the week ending Sunday.
Over the past week, the total number of coronavirus cases in Tennessee was up 16.7%. That’s less than the 20.3% last week, and the 26.1% for the week before that. It marked the lowest percentage growth of total coronavirus cases since the week ending June 21, when cases increased 14.1%.
That news comes as both hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus seem to have stabilized in Tennessee.
From Sunday, July 26, to Sunday, August 2, there were 106 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Tennessee. That’s down from 124 for the week of July 19 to July 26, and marks the first time in five weeks that there was a decrease in deaths. Prior to that, deaths had increased from 51 to 58 for the week ending June 28, from 58 to 62 for the week ending July 5, from 62 to 95 for the week ending July 12, from 95 to 102 for the week ending July 19, and from 102 to 124 for the week ending July 26.
Since June 1, Tennessee’s case fatality ratio — that is, the percentage of known cases that have ended in death — is 0.8%. Since July 1, it drops to 0.7%. Since the pandemic began, Tennessee’s case fatality ratio is now just under 1%, and is one of the lowest statewide case fatality ratios in the nation.
There are also indications that hospitalizations related to coronavirus have stabilized in Tennessee. The TN Dept. of Health’s rolling tally of current hospitalizations dipped to a two-week low on Saturday, with 1,020 people hospitalized across the state with Covid-19 illness. That number will likely increase in the days ahead, as the numbers are constantly adjusted as more hospitals report. Just three days earlier, the number of current hospitalizations reported by the state was at a two-week high of 1,161.
But even as the numbers are adjusted, the fluctuations have been little. The number of people actively hospitalized has increased less than 1% in the past two weeks.
That same trend is being seen in Knox County, the metropolitan area nearest to Scott County. As of Sunday, there were 36 residents of the county hospitalized with Covid-19 illness, according to the Knoxville Health Department. That, too, was a two-week low. Knox County saw its coronavirus hospitalizations top out in the mid 40s, hold steady there for a week, then begin to decline — even as active cases of the virus continue to increase. As of Sunday, Knox County was up to 2,177 active cases of coronavirus.
Unfortunately, Knoxville’s death toll from the virus has continued to climb; it was at 38 on Sunday, with a case fatality ratio nearing 1%. However, there hasn’t been more than one death reported in a single 24-hour period in Knox County since July 17, when two deaths were reported in the same day.
In the 13-county East Tennessee region that includes Knoxville and neighboring counties, including Scott County, hospitalizations have been steady for weeks, but were showing signs of increasing on Tuesday, the last data that has been made available.
As of Tuesday, there were 185 people hospitalized with coronavirus in the region’s 19 acute-care hospitals, up by 32 people in just 72 hours. The number of people on a ventilator in those hospitals had jumped by 11 — 36 to 47 — in a single 24-hour period. That information has not been updated since Tuesday. It is made available once weekly by the Knox County Health Department; it is not made publicly available by the TN Dept. of Health.
Even as hospitalizations have increased in East Tennessee, the region’s overall healthcare capacity capabilities have greatly improved in the past three weeks. As of Tuesday, 32% of hospital floor beds were available, along with 21% of ICU beds. Just weeks ago, fewer than 8% of ICU beds were available at the region’s 19 hospitals.