NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) reported 258 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday in Northeast Tennessee, leaving the seven-county region with its highest “community spread rate” since early October.
The region’s rolling seven-day new case rate per 100,000, the “community spread rate,” dropped slightly from 356 to 349 after reaching its highest level since Sept. 27 on Monday. The rate remains higher than any point since Oct. 3 barring Monday and Tuesday’s figures.
Washington County, despite having the region’s highest vaccination rate, continues to have its highest community spread rate at 418, which is the third-highest among Tennessee’s 95 counties.
The region’s new case rate also remains far above Tennessee’s statewide rate, which ticked down from 195 to 194. While the region’s rate is 1.8 times the state’s, that gap has decreased in the past week. On Nov. 30, Northeast Tennessee’s rate of 264 was 2.2 times Tennessee’s rate of 120.
The U.S. rate is 248, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The number of deaths reported regionwide dropped sharply, just as it did statewide. Daily death reporting, which typically accounts for deaths anywhere from days to weeks old, fluctuates widely.
Wednesday saw TDH report two new deaths regionally, in Carter and Sullivan counties, after 14 were reported Tuesday.
Statewide the death total was 26, down from 163 Tuesday.
Washington and Sullivan counties reported the highest number of new cases regionally, with 88 and 79, respectively.
The region also continues to have a significantly higher test positivity rate than the state. Northeast Tennessee’s positivity rate dropped slightly Tuesday to 15.6%, while Tennessee’s rate rose to 10.8%.
Washington County has the region’s highest rate at 18.0%, the seventh-highest in the state. Johnson, Carter and Sullivan counties all have positivity rates in the top 20 and above 16%. Greene County has the region’s lowest rate at 11.1%.
The gap in positivity rate has been narrowing as that figure has increased statewide. A week ago, Northeast Tennessee’s test positivity rate was 16.0%, while Tennessee’s was 9.3%.
Ballad Health’s totals of COVID patients on ventilators and in intensive care units are at their highest levels since mid-October as well. Wednesday, the hospital system reported 58 patients in ICU and 43 on ventilators.
Just three weeks ago, there were 36 patients in ICU and 24 on ventilators.
The region’s COVID vaccination rates have fallen further behind the state rate as time has gone by and are well behind national rates.
Three area counties, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington County, are the only ones in Northeast Tennessee with at least 50% of their population fully vaccinated. Overall, 48.1% of the seven-county region’s residents, or 243,374 people, are fully vaccinated, compared to 50.9% statewide.
The rate of Northeast Tennesseans with at least one dose of the vaccine is 52.7% and the state’s is 57.0%. The national rate is 71.4% according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
New cases and deaths
The total new cases Tuesday by county were: Carter +23, Greene +29, Hawkins +26, Johnson +6, Sullivan +79, Unicoi +7, Washington +88.
The region added 1,767 cases over the past seven days. That total was 1,385 over the previous seven days.
All seven area counties have new case rates in the top 20 of the state’s 95 counties.
Washington County’s rate of 418 is the state’s third-highest. Sullivan and Johnson rank eighth and ninth-highest, with Greene, Hawkins, Unicoi and Carter 11th, 13th, 17th and 20th.
Carter’s rate of 246 new weekly cases per 100,000 population, lowest in the region, is still 27 percent above the state average. Washington County’s rate is more than double the state average.
The region has now recorded 96,771 cases over the pandemic’s entirety.
The region has 33 new reported COVID deaths the past seven days, compared to just 16 over the previous seven days. Northeast Tennessee’s total COVID death toll now stands at 1,607.
COVID 19 in Tennessee
TDH reported 2,051 new cases over the weekend, increasing the statewide total to 1,329,496 cases.
The health department also reported 163 new deaths Tuesday bringing the pandemic total to 17,650.
The state has 18,093 active cases, up 231 from Monday. Health officials have reported 1,293,753 recoveries total.
Total cases: 96,771 (+258)
Inactive/recovered: 92,372 (+223)
Deaths: 1,607 (+2)
Active cases: 2,792 (+41)
Total cases: 11,107 (+23)
Inactive/recovered: 10,647 (+20)
Deaths: 235 (+1)
Active cases: 225 (+2)
Total cases: 14,566 (+29)
Inactive/recovered: 13,976 (+30)
Deaths: 248 (0)
Active cases: 342 (-1)
Total cases: 10,994 (+26)
Inactive/recovered: 10,535 (+25)
Deaths: 186 (0)
Active cases: 273 (+1)
Total cases: 4,019 (+6)
Inactive/recovered: 3,869 (+7)
Deaths: 54 (0)
Active cases: 96 (-1)
Total cases: 29,125 (+79)
Inactive/recovered: 27,673 (+69)
Deaths: 468 (+1)
Active cases: 984 (+9)
Total cases: 3,291 (+7)
Inactive/recovered: 3,162 (+1)
Deaths: 69 (0)
Active cases: 60 (+6)
Total cases: 23,669 (+88)
Inactive/recovered: 22,510 (+71)
Deaths: 347 (0)
Active cases: 812 (+17)