As February ended on Sunday, Scott County’s active coronavirus cases continued to plummet, dropping to the lowest level in nearly five months.
There were 32 active cases of Covid-19 in Scott County as of Sunday, the fewest since Oct. 2. There had been only about two dozen active cases in the county through September, but the number climbed into the 30s in early October and then continued to climb throughout the month, reaching 80 by Halloween, just ahead of an explosion of new cases that sent active cases surging to 363 just before Christmas.
Things have changed drastically since then, however. It had been 13 days, as of Sunday, since new case numbers for any single day were in the double digits. There were more than 500 new cases attributed to Scott County for the month, but the bulk of those were old cases that were assigned to Scott County for the posterity of records-keeping.
Meanwhile, the number of active cases dropped by nearly 70% over the course of the month, from 102 to 32.
The Dept. of Health reported a 43rd coronavirus-related fatality in Scott County on Sunday, four days after reporting two deaths linked to the virus earlier in the week. But deaths are declining as well. As of Sunday, Scott County’s case fatality ratio was just under 1.5% — still slightly above the statewide case fatality ratio, but less than the 1.6% mortality rate that was being seen a month ago.
In all, there have been 2,868 known cases of coronavirus in Scott County, affecting about 13% of the county’s population. Of those, 56 — or about 2.0% — have required hospitalization. Only three hospitalizations had reported in the past nine days, as of Sunday.
Testing positivity remained low; for the week ending Sunday, it was just 8.1%, down significantly from a week earlier.
And Scott County’s Covid-19 transmission rate, which was the highest in the state just two weeks ago, had dropped to among the state’s lowest by the weekend. According to the University of Tennessee, in fact, only four of the state’s 95 counties — all of them in West Tennessee — had transmission rates lower than Scott County’s 0.74 as of Sunday.
A transmission rate less than 1.0 means the prevalence of a disease is lessening; a transmission rate greater than 1.0 means the prevalence is growing.
Statewide, the number of active Covid-19 cases had dropped to 13,730 as of Sunday, down nearly 20% from a week earlier and down 60% since the month began. At one point, just before Christmas, there were more than 80,000 active cases of the virus in Tennessee.
Testing positivity across the state was down to 6.4% for the week ending Sunday.
As for hospitalizations, there were only 871 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Tennessee as of Sunday. At one point, in early January, there were more than 3,000 people hospitalized with the virus and health care facilities were straining under the burden.
In the East Tennessee region — a 16-county region that includes Knoxville and surrounding areas, including Scott County — there were 171 people hospitalized with Covid-19 last week. That is a number that has stabilized; nearly 700 people were hospitalized with the virus a week into January.
Of the coronavirus patients currently hospitalized in the region’s 19 hospitals, only 27 are in ICU and only 13 are on ventilators. At one point, there were more than 100 Covid-19 patients on ventilators and nearly two out of every three patients with the virus requiring intensive care treatment were on a ventilator.
As a result of the region’s declining hospitalizations, the Knox County Regional Health Department has shifted health care systems capabilities from yellow to green for the first time in months.
More good news: Covid-19 cases in school-aged children in Scott County have dropped to nearly zero. There are still cases impacting schools; fourth grade at Huntsville Elementary was quarantined this week, for example, due to direct contact with a confirmed covid case. But across the community as a whole, numbers in the five to 18 age group are down significantly. For the week ending Sunday, there were only four cases in children ages five to 18 in all of Scott County. For the past two weeks, as of Monday, there had been only five cases of the virus reported in school-aged children, about 11% of the total cases reported in Scott County during that time frame.