While packed hospitals remain the primary storyline of the covid surge in Tennessee, a trend is slowly emerging: The number of coronavirus patients in the hospital is declining.
The Independent Herald first reported Sept. 4 that the statistics indicated the peak of the latest surge of covid was close at hand in Tennessee. Two weeks later, declining hospitalizations offer the latest evidence that the peak of the viral outbreak has already occurred.
The TN Dept. of Health reported Wednesday that there are 3,585 people across the Volunteer State hospitalized with Covid-19. Last week, that number peaked at more than 3,700 people hospitalized with the virus.
Closer to home, there were 732 people hospitalized with covid in East Tennessee’s 18 hospitals as of Tuesday, the Knox County Regional Health Department reported Wednesday. That number peaked at 757 on Sept. 10.
It’s too soon to say that the number of people being hospitalized with Covid-19 has peaked in East Tennessee — which consists of Knoxville and surrounding communities, including Scott County — but the number of hospitalized patients had steadily risen since late July.
There were 14 ICU beds available at the region’s 18 hospitals as of Tuesday. That represents fewer than 5% of all ICU beds in the region, but was the highest number of available beds in several weeks. More than half of everyone currently in ICU in East Tennessee are Covid-19 patients.
To be clear, the improvements being shown in the data are slight. Still, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel comes after weeks of a worsening outbreak of Covid-19, which is being fueled by the highly-contagious delta variant.
Statewide, the covid transmission rate is hovering just above 1.0, according to the University of Tennessee’s Covid-19 Case Tracker, meaning the outbreak is technically still growing. But a growing number of counties have transmission rates below 1.0, meaning the prevalence of the virus is shrinking in those communities. Overall, 52 of 95 counties now have transmission rates below 1.0. A number of other counties, including Scott County, are just slightly above 1.0.
On a more somber note, the share of Scott County’s new covid cases among school-aged children is up the past two days. For the 7-day period ending Wednesday, 26% of all new covid cases reported in Scott County were in the five-to-18 age group. That included 18 of the 38 new cases reported on Wednesday.
There were 366 active cases of Covid-19 in Scott County as of Wednesday, down from 386 a week earlier. Testing positivity for the 7-day period ending Wednesday was 12.7%.