The latest alarming sign of Scott County’s worsening standing in the battle of coronavirus comes in soaring testing positivity. For the week ending Sunday, October 25, nearly 20% of coronavirus tests conducted in Scott County — or about 1 in every 5 — returned positive.
Those figures are according to data made public by the TN Dept. of Health. Over the course of the Sunday-to-Sunday seven-day period, there were 361 tests conducted in Scott County, of which 69 returned positive.
The Dept. of Health reported 10 new cases of coronavirus in Scott County on Sunday. It marked the third consecutive day of new cases in the double digits, after 12 new cases were reported Saturday and 11 new cases were reported Friday. Overall, there have been 384 people sickened by coronavirus in Scott County, with 87 of those cases being active as of Sunday. There have been 292 people recover from coronavirus, and five fatalities in Scott County.
The 60 new cases in Scott County for the week ending Sunday was the most since the pandemic reached Tennessee in March.
As indicators of the worsening Covid-19 outbreak in Scott County, Sunday’s data was a double-whammy. Not only was the number of new cases for the week easily the most since the pandemic began, but the testing positivity rate was well above the threshold recommended by experts. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testing positivity above 10% indicates that there aren’t enough tests being performed to catch all cases of coronavirus within a community.
“A higher percent positive suggests higher transmission and that there are likely more people with coronavirus in the community who haven’t been tested yet,” John Hopkins University Bloomberg School for Public Health said in August.
“A high percent positive means that more testing should probably be done — and it suggests that it is not a good time to relax restrictions aimed at reducing coronavirus transmission,” the School for Public Health continued. “Because a high percentage of positive tests suggests high coronavirus infection rates, a high percent positive can indicate it may be a good time to add restrictions to slow the spread of disease.”
The World Health Organization recommended in May that positivity rates remain below 5% for two weeks before governments consider relaxing restrictions aimed at reducing coronavirus transmission.
For people living in places with high testing positivity, the School for Public Health recommended, “Since this means that the level of coronavirus transmission in your area is likely still high, you should be very careful about wearing masks, washing your hands, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding situations that may put you at risk for getting infected or infecting others.”
For the week ending October 18, testing positivity in Scott County was 8.9%. It was 6.4% for the week before that. Over the past six weeks, testing positivity in the local community has been 9.7%.
As the Independent Herald has previously reported, Scott County’s increase in coronavirus cases parallels the recent worsening of the situation in Fentress and Campbell counties, both of which have been hard-hit by the virus this fall. In fact, of the counties in the region, the number of active cases have increased by far more in Scott County over the past 10 days than in any other.
Since October 15, the number of active cases has increased by 64% in Scott County, while increasing by 18% in Anderson County. Elsewhere during that time frame, active cases decreased by 2% in Campbell County, decreased by 4% in Morgan County, decreased by 21% in Fentress County and decreased by 39% in Pickett County.
None of the new cases reported Sunday involved school-aged children, and only two of the 33 cases reported in the past three days have involved children in that 5-to-18 age group. For the week, nine school-aged children were reported with coronavirus in Scott County. There have been a total of 50 school-aged children in Scott County diagnosed with Covid-19 since the pandemic began.
For the week, 15% of new cases in Scott County involved school-aged children. That’s slightly higher than the 13% of local cases involving school-aged children since the pandemic began, and the number of students being quarantined in both local school systems continues to increase. Scott High School will remain on a “phase-in” schedule this week, with only 50% of students attending classes each day, as determined by grade level.
There have been a total of 22 people hospitalized by coronavirus in Scott County. Three hospitalizations were reported by the Dept. of Health on Friday.
Across Tennessee, there were 3,500 new positive cases of coronavirus reported Sunday. That’s the second-highest daily total since the pandemic began, just short of Friday’s record 3,606 new cases. The top three highest daily case totals have occurred in the past week; there were 3,317 new cases reported on October 19.
There are now 26,389 active cases of Covid-19 in Tennessee, up 25% from a week earlier. Of those, 973 were reported to be hospitalized on Sunday. That was down sharply from the 1,247 hospitalizations reported the previous day; however, the lower total was likely due to fewer hospitals reporting their patient numbers over the weekend.
In Knox County, there were 1,366 active cases as of Sunday, 77 of which were hospitalized.