JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A steady growth in new COVID-19 case rates that began in late October has begun impacting rates of COVID patients in hospital intensive care units (ICU) as well as rolling averages of COVID deaths.
Both metrics are what’s known as “lagging indicators,” meaning they climb several weeks after new cases do.
After falling steeply from mid-September until the end of October, the seven-day rolling average of new cases per 100,000 population began to climb again in Northeast Tennessee. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 19 it increased 66%, from 145 to 241.
After a brief dip during the Thanksgiving holidays, it climbed steadily through Monday when it topped out — possibly — at 373 for a 157% increase in just over a month. Friday it had dropped slightly to 344.
The number of COVID patients in Ballad ICU beds actually reached its lowest point in weeks between mid-November and Thanksgiving weekend, hovering around 40 throughout that time.
But since Nov. 26, that number has risen by close to 40% and stood at 56 on Friday.
Likewise, the seven-day average of reported COVID deaths in Northeast Tennessee remained in a fairly steady band between 10 and 23 — averaging about 16 — from Oct. 22 through the end of November.
That rate stood at 16 on Nov. 30, but it jumped to 23 Dec. 1, tying the highest rate in six weeks. It reached 31 Dec. 4 and hasn’t been below 30 since.
The rate hasn’t spent a week above 30 since Oct. 11-17 — just before those rates began to fall steadily in response to the steep drop in cases that had begun a month earlier.