JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Washington County has seen its 7-day average COVID-19 case rate jump nearly 10% over the last month.
Just weeks ago the county was in the bottom 50% of counties in the state for COVID-19 case rates. Now it’s second-highest in the state. Sullivan County has the seventh-highest case rate. Sullivan County’s case rate is more than 24 new daily cases per 100,000 people. Washington County’s case rate stands at about more than 30…nearly twice the statewide case rate of more than 15.
Heather Mullins, Sullivan County Regional Health Department epidemiologist, said while cases in older generations are decreasing, they are seeing more cases in younger people…especially those who cannot get vaccinated yet.
“We have seen over the last three weeks about a 10% increase among school-aged children between 10 to 19 years of age and then our 20 to 29 years of age we’re seeing an increase in cases,” said Mullins.
Northeast Tennessee Regional Medical Director Dr. David Kirschke said there are a number of factors to the increase in cases.
“One is travel, people traveling over spring break. It’s relaxing of measures so a lot of states that had mask mandates no longer have them. Tennessee’s never had a state mask mandate, but we know that local mask mandates have gone away, and then there are the COVID variants that are spreading,” said Dr. Kirschke.
Mullins said any increase in cases is concerning, especially when it comes to hospital capacity.
“We are starting to see those in the lower age populations that are having to be hospitalized. So we don’t want people to get seriously ill with COVID. And it is possible even though we’re really seeing it with the older population, it’s still possible for the younger population to have severe illness as well,” Mullins said.
Both health officials said we have to continue wearing face masks and social distancing and get vaccinated with any vaccine that is available to you.