The acceleration of Scott County’s coronavirus outbreak appears to be showing signs of slowing.
For two consecutive days, the number of active Covid-19 cases in Scott County has decreased slightly, according to the TN Dept. of Health. There were 262 active cases of the virus on Wednesday, down from a high of 273 on Monday.
The reason for the decline: An uptick in the number of cases being classified as recovered or inactive, up from a total of 485 on Monday to 534 on Wednesday — an increase of 49 in just 48 hours.
To be clear, the interruption to what had been a nearly steady increase in the number of active cases for the past two weeks is not because fewer people in Scott County are testing positive for Covid-19. In fact, there have been 38 new cases of the virus reported by the Dept. of Health in the past 48 hours. Prior to just two weeks ago, either of those daily increases — 17 on Monday and 21 on Tuesday — would’ve been a record for the most new cases in a single day.
Rather, the decline in the number of active cases is due to Scott County finally reaching the two-week window where the initial cases resulting from the Covid-19 surge can be listed as recovered or in active by the Dept. of Health.
Still, that decline — however subtle it may have been — cannot occur until the number of new cases stops accelerating. For two weeks, Scott County’s number of new coronavirus cases has steadily increased. On the worst day, there were 43 new cases reported Monday.
The next step in the coronavirus outbreak would be for new cases to begin to decline, so that recoveries can out-pace new infections and the number of active cases can show a more marked decline rather than holding mostly steady. That is what happened in Fentress and Campbell counties after notable outbreaks of the virus in those neighboring communities.
As of Wednesday, there were 147 active cases in Campbell County and 92 in Fentress County. Those numbers are virtually unchanged from 10 days ago, when there were 147 active cases in Campbell County and 93 in Fentress County. But one month ago, there were 261 active cases in Campbell County and 141 in Fentress County.
Elsewhere in the region, Morgan County is seeing its active cases increase — up from 47 to 98 in the past 10 days. Active cases also continue to slowly increase in Anderson County, where there were 400 as of Wednesday.
As previously reported by the Independent Herald, it has been a bad month of November for Scott County. The local community has had the state’s second highest number of new covid cases per populous since the beginning of the month, while the number of school-aged children testing positive for the virus was significantly higher during the first half of November than during the entire month of October, and the number of people over the age of 80 — the most at-risk age group — testing positive for the virus has more than doubled in November compared to the first eight months of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, even as the acceleration of new cases in Scott County appears to be slowing, the number of cases among school-aged children continues to increase. Of the 38 new cases in the past 48 hours, 12 — or nearly 1 in 3 — have been in children ages five to 18. Since the beginning of the pandemic, school-aged children have made up about 14% of coronavirus cases in Scott County.
All local schools are now on a virtual schedule until after Thanksgiving. Both school systems will be closed next week for the Thanksgiving holiday. Scott County students will return to class on Monday, November 30; Oneida students will return on Wednesday, December 2.
All but one of the 21 new cases reported on Wednesday were confirmed by laboratory testing. Fewer than half of the 17 new cases reported Tuesday were confirmed. Testing positivity remains extremely high in Scott County, an indication that there is still more coronavirus circulating in the community than is being detected. Testing positivity for Wednesday alone was 30% — meaning three out of every 10 tests conducted were returning positive.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 24 people hospitalized in Scott County and six people have died. Those numbers are expected to increase in the days and weeks ahead. So far, though, only two hospitalizations have been reported since the current surge in cases began. Just about 0.5% of new cases since the beginning of November have required hospitalization; historically, between 4% and 5% of coronavirus cases in Tennessee have required hospitalization.
Statewide, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations continues to increase — now nearing 2,000 current hospitalizations — even as the number of active cases has dipped to 41,000 from a high of 43,000 on Monday.
In the 13-county East Tennessee region of Knoxville and surrounding counties — including Scott County — coronavirus-related hospitalizations continue to climb. There are currently 337 people hospitalized in the region’s 19 hospitals, according to new data released Wednesday, including 81 in ICU units and 33 on ventilators.