For the first time in weeks, there is positive coronavirus data coming out of Tennessee, even as the number of cases in Scott County increases.
The TN Dept. of Health reported no additional cases of coronavirus in Scott County on Monday. The local community remains at 17 total cases of the virus, three of which are active. All three were reported on Friday. But Scott County Mayor Jeff Tibbals said Monday that he expects multiple new cases to be reported by the Dept. of Health by Tuesday. No information about the new cases — which were apparently not reported to the state health department in time to be included in Monday’s report — was immediately available.
Meanwhile, the Dept. of Health did report 728 new cases in Tennessee on Monday. That’s the fewest number of new cases in a single 24-hour period since June 22.
But that’s not the positive data. In fact, the relatively low number of new cases on Monday is likely due to reduced testing over the 4th of July holiday weekend. The Dept. of Health reported a relatively low number of new test results on Monday — 8,441 of them — and the percentage of those tests returning positive was 8.6%, above the norm.
The positive data is that new hospitalizations are down for a third consecutive day. The Dept. of Health reported 26 new hospitalizations on Monday, after reporting 11 on Sunday. Thirty-five new hospitalizations were reported Saturday, after a stretch of nearly two weeks where Tennessee averaged more than 50 new hospitalizations each day.
With the declining number of new hospitalizations, there were 652 current hospitalizations across the state on Sunday — still high, if not quite as high as the 660 hospitalizations on Thursday, which currently stands as the high water mark.
Additionally, there has still not been a surge of new coronavirus-related deaths in Tennessee. Even though the rate of hospitalizations has decreased, the sheer number of new hospitalizations — which appears to be related to the surge of new cases of the virus across the state, and not a worsening of the severity of the virus — lends itself to an expectation of increased deaths. Historically, around 23% of people who have been hospitalized with coronavirus in Tennessee have not survived.
But, so far, that’s not happened. The Dept. of Health reported seven new coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, a number that is in line with what the state has been experiencing for the past several weeks.
It’s too soon to say that a surge in deaths won’t come; there is significant lag time between the diagnoses of serious cases of Covid-19 and deaths. But, for now, Tennessee’s case fatality ratio is in free-fall. As of Monday, 1.3% of the state’s known coronavirus cases are ending in death. As recently as June 1, that number was 1.6%. And, on May 1, it was 1.7%.
Since June 1, the number of the state’s known cases of coronavirus that have ended in death is under 1%. And while that percentage will almost surely rise to some extent, Tennessee has one of the best coronavirus case fatality ratios in the nation.
As for the state’s overall case fatality ratio of 1.3%: if the CDC is accurate in its latest assessment that there may be 10 times as many cases of coronavirus as have been detected, Tennessee’s true death rate may be somewhere around 0.13% — less than with seasonal influenza in an average year.
Meanwhile, here’s where things stood as of Monday in select problem areas across the state:
• Knoxville: The TN Dept. of Health reports 568 active cases of coronavirus, a number that is climbing relentlessly. The Knox County Health Department is reporting 495 active cases, a number that is less than the state’s number, but that still represents a significant increase from Sunday, when there were 425 active cases in Knox County. There are currently 20 people hospitalized in Knoxville with coronavirus, a number that has not changed in the past 24 hours.
• Sevierville: The Dept. of Health reports 368 active cases in Sevier County. That’s up from 355 on Sunday, but the number of new cases of the virus has slowed a bit in East Tennessee’s tourism mecca in recent days.
• Morristown: There were 166 active cases of Covid-19 in Hamblen County on Monday, which is down from 181 on Sunday. Hamblen County had seen explosive growth of the virus for more than a week.
• Maryville: There were 90 active cases in Blount County on Monday, another area that is seeing a surge of new cases. That’s up just one from Sunday, when there were 89 active cases.
• Cleveland: The spread of coronavirus continues in Bradley County, next-door to Chattanooga. There were 351 active cases as of Monday, up from 334 on Sunday.
• Chattanooga: Hamilton County was down to 914 active cases on Monday after there were 943 reported there on Sunday. However, the Hamilton County Health Department reports a higher number than the state — 941 active cases. There were no new deaths reported in Hamilton County in the past 24 hours. The death toll from the virus has been climbing in recent weeks, from 14 to 35 since June 1.
• Cookeville: There were 256 active cases in Putnam County on Monday, down from 267 on Sunday. Next door, in Crossville, the state reported 52 active cases in Cumberland County on Monday.
• Harriman: There were 24 active cases in Roane County on Monday, down from 25 on Sunday. Despite a recent increase in active cases, Roane County has still not reported a death related to coronavirus.
In the local region, there were 63 active cases of the coronavirus in Anderson County, down from 66 on Sunday. Campbell County is up to 16 active cases, while Fentress County remains at eight, Morgan County remains at five, and Pickett County remains at two. There are currently 97 active cases in Scott and neighboring Tennessee counties, down from 99 on Sunday.