Not all the news is gloomy as the coronavirus outbreak continues in Tennessee — even if it might sometimes seem that way.
The state’s daily data dump on Thursday reflected 15 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the overall total to 94. As a result, the state’s case fatality rate has surpassed two percent for the first time — meaning two percent of the confirmed coronavirus cases have ended in death. The number of patients requiring hospitalization in Tennessee is also rising, now at nearly 11 percent of the confirmed cases.
But, despite that, there’s hope that the virus outbreak is peaking. It has now been over a week since Tennessee’s overall number of coronavirus cases increased by a double-digit percentage. The 272 new cases announced by the Department of Health on Thursday brought the total number of cases in the state to 4,634 — up just six percent from Wednesday’s total of 4,362, which was up only five percent from Tuesday’s total of 4,138.
And in some of the state’s hardest-hit areas, the spread of the virus seems to be winding down.
In Williamson County, where Tennessee’s coronavirus outbreak began, only one new case was reported on Thursday — after only nine new cases were reported on Wednesday.
In Sumner County, which has been slammed by the coronavirus, with a nursing home outbreak and the largest per capita impact in the state, 15 new cases were reported Wednesday and 13 on Thursday, as the outbreak slows there. The total number of cases in Sumner County was up just three percent on Thursday.
Of course, there is still a lot of tunnel left to traverse even if the light can be seen at the end of it. In the state’s hardest-hit metropolitan areas, Nashville and Memphis, the daily increases have leveled off, but new cases are still being developed at higher rates than in Williamson or Sumner counties. On Thursday, Nashville’s total number of cases was up six percent, after increasing 6.5 percent on Wednesday. In Memphis, double-digit daily increases continue; Thursday’s total was up 10.3 percent from Wednesday’s.
Still, the state’s smaller metropolitan areas show that the social-distancing policies now in place may be working. Both Knoxville and Chattanooga are well behind Nashville and Memphis on the outbreak timeline. Yet, Knoxville’s total number of cases increased just under 10 percent between Tuesday and Thursday, a 48-hour period. Chattanooga’s total number of cases increased less than five percent during the same time period.
Given just how few cases there are in rural Tennessee, those numbers give hope that the outbreaks in these areas, away from the populated metro areas, may never get that bad. Scott County has reported four cases of the virus this week, after going 15 days between the first four cases, and on Thursday reported multiple new cases in a single day for the first time. Meanwhile, three new cases were reported in Campbell County.
But in Anderson County, there’s been only one new case in nearly a week — in a count of more than 75,000 people. Roane County, with more than 50,000 people, has also seen cases slow to rise, and has only five confirmed cases overall.