JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – COVID-19’s delta variant has impacted Northeast Tennessee more severely than the state as a whole during October, with case and death rates both more than 28% higher in the region.
Additionally, the seven-county region’s test positivity percentage over the past 30 days is almost 50% higher than the state’s.
The data come from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) and also show regional impact worse than the state over the past seven days. All numbers are population-adjusted.
With the month near its close, the data show the rate of new COVID cases per 100,000 since Oct. 1 was 918 in the region, which includes Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.
Statewide the rate was 713 new cases per 100,000, leaving the regional rate 28% higher than the state’s.
COVID deaths have hit the region even harder proportionately, though just slightly.
Northeast Tennessee’s 112 COVID deaths since Oct. 1 equal 22.2 per 100,000 population. Statewide, the 1,151 deaths during the same period is 16.9 per 100,000, putting the regional toll 31% higher per capita than the state’s.
The largest gap actually comes in the percentage of administered COVID tests that come back positive. Public health experts say any time that rate is above 5% is cause for continued measures to try and curb COVID’s spread.
For the month, Northeast Tennessee’s rate of 14.0% is 46% higher than Tennessee’s statewide rate of 9.6%.
Numbers also worse over past week
All COVID measures have been steadily improving as the delta surge recedes, and no regional health officials have suggested they won’t continue declining.
But the rate of decline has slowed recently, and Northeast Tennessee’s one-week data remain significantly higher than state numbers.
The seven-day new case rate of 155 per 100,000 is 40% higher than Tennessee’s rate of 111.
Johnson County has the state’s second-highest rate (309) and Greene (180) and Hawkins (178) rank ninth and 10th-highest. Sullivan County ranks 17th at 169 new cases per 100,000 and is the highest-ranking county with a population over 100,000.
The death rate of 3.6 per 100,000 is 29% higher than the statewide rate of 2.8.
And the test positivity rate of 10.6% is 63% higher than the state rate of 6.5%.
Since Aug. 1, 393 Northeast Tennesseans have died of COVID. In the three prior months that total was 60. Over the course of the pandemic, nearly 1,500 reported COVID deaths have occurred in Northeast Tennessee.