Region’s recent COVID deaths stacking up at much higher rates than state, nation

Local Coronavirus Coverage

Northeast Tennessee per capita COVID deaths have been almost double the rest of the state’s the past 15 days. Southwest Virginia’s rate is two-and-a-half times the rest of Virginia’s.

Nearly 40% of Ballad September deaths so far due to COVID

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – COVID-19’s most severe outcome is hitting our region disproportionately hard in recent weeks.

News Channel 11 calculated the number of COVID deaths per 100,000 population over the last 15 days for the region, the states of Tennessee and Virginia and the U.S. as a whole.

“A concerning thing is we’re starting to see an increased number of deaths start to happen now,” Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton said during a media briefing Thursday.

“We’re at 51 deaths the last week, went through a dramatic increase.”

The 79 Northeast Tennesseans who’ve died over the past 15 days equals a rate of 15.6 per 100,000. That’s close to double the 8.7 rate for the rest of Tennessee.

A total of 628 Tennesseans have died statewide during the period.

The contrast is even starker in Virginia, where 8.6 Southwest Virginians per 100,000 have died the past 15 days. That’s more than two-and-a-half times the 3.6 rate across the rest of the commonwealth.

Thursday, Deaton spoke of the increasing percentage of deaths within Ballad hospitals that are attributable to COVID-19. That figure quadrupled from July, when it was just over 6%, to August’s 24.6%.

“We’ve had some higher deaths as a percentage of the total number across the system in the past, especially in December and January (32.7% and 33.8%) … when we are at our previous peak.”

But the current month has the potential to exceed those ratios.

“Through September, for the first 8, 9 days it represents almost 40% … of the patients that are expiring due to COVID.”

The combined 16-county viewing area has seen 104 reported COVID deaths since Aug. 26 — that 13.1 rate per 100,000 is close to triple the U.S. average of 5.1.

The two-state region’s COVID death rate per 100,000 population is more than two-and-a-half times that of the U.S. as a whole.

More than 16,000 American COVID deaths have been reported the past 15 day. Reported COVID deaths typically lag case reporting by anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

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