KNOXVILLE — It’s far too early for East Tennesseans to declare victory over coronavirus. There are multiple people from Scott County hospitalized with the virus, testing positivity rates remain high, and the number of active cases is still growing in the region’s economic hub of Knox County — which is the only major metropolitan area in the state not seeing its active cases decline.
But hospitalization data released Wednesday shows that hospitalizations related to Covid-19, which were once surging in East Tennessee and testing the limits of the region’s health care capacity, remain stable.
As of Tuesday, there were a total of 152 coronavirus patients hospitalized in the 13 counties including and surrounding Knoxville. That’s down 18% from a week earlier, when hospitalizations had spiked to 185. It’s virtually unchanged from two weeks earlier, when 155 people were hospitalized with the virus.
The Knox County Health Department releases the hospitalization data from the region’s 19 hospitals — which includes Big South Fork Medical Center in Oneida, as well as hospitals in Anderson and Campbell counties — once a week. The TN Dept. of Health has chosen not to make that data publicly available.
As of Tuesday, there were 62 Covid-19 patients in the ICU, representing about 4 in 10 of those hospitalized. The majority of the ICU patients, 46 in all, were on a ventilator. One week ago, there were 66 coronavirus patients in the ICU in the 13-county East Tennessee region, and 47 of them were on a ventilator. Two weeks ago, those numbers were at 58 and 33, respectively.
There are 84 patients hospitalized who are suspected to have coronavirus with test results pending. Sixteen of them are in the ICU and seven are on a ventilator.
The region’s health care capacity capabilities remain slightly better than the statewide picture. As of Tuesday, 30% of the region’s hospital floor beds were unoccupied, while 19% of ICU beds were unoccupied and 57% of ventilators were available. Those numbers aren’t as good as they were last week, when more than 30% of ICU beds were available, but they’re significantly better than a month ago, when fewer than 8% of ICU beds were available.
As of Tuesday, 225 of the 278 ICU beds in the region’s 19 hospitals were occupied; 160 of those ICU beds were occupied by patients other than coronavirus patients. Additionally, 107 of 249 ventilators were in use. Sixty-one of them were being used by patients other than coronavirus patients.
In addition to the current capacities that aren’t being utilized, the region’s 19 hospitals have surge capacity of 543 ICU beds and 374 ventilators — meaning resources that can be put into use if coronavirus hospitalizations soar unexpectedly.
Statewide, the Dept. of Health reported that 1,088 people were hospitalized with coronavirus on Tuesday. That was down from a high of 1,161 one week earlier. The state’s numbers are typically adjusted upward slightly as more hospitals report data to the health department, but the overall picture is one of stable hospitalizations across the state for the past two weeks. On July 21, there were 1,079 people hospitalized with the virus, a number that has been virtually unchanged for 14 days.
As of Tuesday, 19% of floor beds and 15% of ICU beds were unoccupied at hospitals across the state. That’s slightly less than the goal of having 20% of ICU beds available.
There were 59 active cases of coronavirus in Scott County as of Monday — up from 39 one week earlier, but down slightly for a second consecutive day. The peak was 63 active cases on Monday. The state reported no new coronavirus cases in Scott County on Wednesday for the first time in two weeks.