With the Christmas holiday more than two weeks past, there were no indications as of Monday that a feared surge of new coronavirus cases related to holiday get-togethers was going to materialize in Scott County.
For the seven-day period ending Monday, there were 105 new cases of the virus reported locally — an average of 15 cases each day. That was down from 143 new cases the previous week, and fewer than half as many new cases as was reported in the final Monday-to-Monday period before Christmas, when there were an average of 36 new cases each day for the week.
In all, there have been 2,172 people in Scott County sickened by coronavirus — or nearly 1 in 10 of the community’s residents. But the numbers of new people getting sick haven’t increased since Christmas. There were 232 active cases of Covid-19 in Scott County as of Monday, just two more than one week earlier, and substantially fewer than the peak of 363 active cases, which was seen three weeks earlier.
A substantial number of Scott County’s new cases of the virus continue to be classified as probable cases rather than confirmed cases. For the week ending Monday, 54 of the new cases — 51% of the total for the week — were probable cases. The number of probable cases is up statewide, but Scott County’s probable cases — as a percentage of the total cases — continue to far exceed the statewide average.
Prior to November, only 10% of Scott County’s total covid cases were listed as probable.
Confirmed coronavirus cases are only those that have a positive PCR test — the most reliable laboratory test, which requires several days for results to be returned. Probable cases include all positive antigen tests, which are the rapid tests utilized by some health care providers. Rapid tests are considered less accurate, returning higher numbers of both false positives and false negatives. In some instances, people who are exposed to coronavirus and later exhibit certain symptoms are considered probable cases, as well.
The Independent Herald has requested clarification from the TN Dept. of Health regarding the abnormally high number of probable cases in Scott County, but those requests have gone unanswered.
For the week ending Monday, testing positivity in Scott County was 21%, with 59 of 286 PCR tests returning positive.
While new cases of the virus may be down somewhat, Scott Countians are still dying of Covid-19. There were four new deaths reported in a six-day period ending Monday, bringing the total number of covid-related deaths in Scott County to 29. The case fatality ratio in Scott County is 1.3%, which exceeds the statewide average. For perspective, the seasonal flu death rate in an average year is between 0.1% and 0.2%, according to the CDC.
A total of 44 people from Scott County have been hospitalized with the virus.
Students in the Oneida Special School District headed back to class on Monday for the first time since mid December. Scott County students returned last week, though most students were in class only one day. All students were scheduled to be in class either two or three days this week as the county school system continues a phase-in schedule. As students head back to class, the numbers of new covid cases among school-aged children is finally in decline. For the week ending Monday, there were 14 new cases in children ages five to 18 — 13% of the total number of new cases for the week. Prior to last week, school-aged children had made up 17% of Scott County’s new cases since in-person classes were dismissed in December.
Sports also resumed last week. Oneida’s basketball teams played four games in five days, while Scott High’s teams played three games in five days. There had been no games involving local teams in at least two weeks; Scott High’s girls team went 31 days without playing a game.
TSSAA regulations remain in place that limit attendance to only members of the immediate households of players, and that require masks for entry to games. Cheerleaders and pep bands remain banned from games until at least Jan. 19, which is when Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order is currently set to expire.