Most recent 1,000 deaths have come in 136 days

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – News Channel 11’s two-state viewing area surpassed a grim milestone with Wednesday’s weekly Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) COVID-19 data report — 3,000 total COVID deaths.

The most recent 1,000 deaths have come in 136 days, since Sept. 5, 2021. It took 248 days for the 16-county region to go from 1,000 to 2,000 deaths (Dec. 30, 2020 to Sept. 5, 2021) and 219 days to go from its first COVID death March 21, 2020 to its 1,000th on Dec. 30, 2020.

The region has significantly higher per capita COVID death rates than its respective states of Tennessee and Virginia, and of the nation. The region’s combined rate of COVID deaths per 100,000 population is 382.

That rate is 49% higher than the national rate of 257, 20% higher than Tennessee’s 318 and 106% higher than Virginia’s rate of 185. It is higher than any state but New York, which experienced massive deaths early in the pandemic.

The most recent 1,000 COVID deaths in the region have come in the shortest time span.

The 16-county region of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia has now recorded 3,036 deaths over the entirety of the pandemic after TDH reported 50 additional deaths in Northeast Tennessee’s seven counties. That includes 1,974 deaths in Northeast Tennessee and another 1,062 in Southwest Virginia’s nine counties (including the cities of Bristol and Norton).

The two most populous counties, Sullivan and Washington in Tennessee, have nearly 1,000 COVID deaths between them, with 574 in Sullivan and 414 in Washington. Greene County has the next-highest total at 306 deaths.

Higher by almost any measure

Several Southwest Virginia counties have rates among the 10 highest in the state, led by Smyth County’s 466 per 100,000 (142 total deaths in a county of just over 30,000 people). Scott, Buchanan and Wise counties, with rates of 432, 424 and 421 also all rank among the top 10 out of the Commonwealth’s 95 counties.

In Tennessee, Carter County has the highest rate of any county in both states at 495 per 100,000. A total of 279 people have died in Carter, one of the least-vaccinated counties in the region and in Tennessee.

Out of Tennessee’s 18 counties with populations between 50,000 and 100,000, Carter has the highest death rate, Greene the fourth-highest (443) and Hawkins the fifth-highest (440).

Among the state’s 13 counties with more than 100,000 people, Sullivan and Washington have the two highest COVID death rates. Sullivan’s rate is 363 and Washington’s is 320.

In addition to having Northeast Tennessee’s lowest COVID-19 death rate by a significant margin — Sullivan’s is 13% higher and is the second-lowest — Washington County has the region’s highest vaccination rates.

Since Sept. 1, Southwest Virginia’s COVID death rate of 139 per 100,000 is triple Virginia’s statewide rate of 46. Northeast Tennessee’s rate is 135 during that same period, while Tennessee’s is 120.