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The state of Tennessee reported 1,326 new cases yesterday, bringing totals to 618,319 confirmed cases and 110,868 probable cases. 685,162 people are considered to be recovered or have an inactive case of the virus, while 34,272 Tennesseans are currently COVID-positive. The seven-day average for new daily cases is 2,820, continuing the downward trend, though at a slower pace.
An additional 52 COVID-positive Tennesseans were hospitalized yesterday, bringing the total to 17,172 hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic. 1,536 COVID-positive Tennesseans are currently hospitalized. While the number continues to decline, the decline appears to have slowed dramatically, with only 20 fewer in this report than the day before. 431 of those hospitalized are in ICUs, while 251 are on ventilators. Each of these numbers are up slightly from the day before, further signaling the decline may have stalled.
103 Tennessee deaths were reported from COVID-19 yesterday. The death toll from the virus has reached 9,753 and the pace has not slowed in the same way as cases and hospitalizations. The seven-day average for deaths in the state fell from the previous day’s record 113 to 112. Of the sixteen times the state has reported more than 100 deaths for a single day, eleven have come since the beginning of 2021. The most recent sharp decline in cases began almost a month ago, so logic would suggest we should soon see the sharp decline in deaths if it is coming.
Testing continues to be erratic, with returns to more normal levels of more than 30,000 or 40,000, followed by days below 10,000. Yesterday afternoon, the state reported 9,606 tests were processes, with a 10.69% positive test rate. If we had tested at pre-holiday levels, we would have had over 5,000 new cases yesterday, even at the lower positive test rate. Johns Hopkins University is reporting an average 13% positive test result rate over the last week for the state.
The latest report on vaccinations from the state indicates 667,031 shots have been given to state residents, including 10,562 the most recent day and 156,333 over the last seven days. 7.03% of state residents have gotten at least one shot, while 193,096 of the state’s population of 6,829,000 people have gotten both vaccines. At the current pace, 100% of Tennesseans would be vaccinated 582 days from today, or by September 7, 2022.
The Knox County Health Department reported 60 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Knox County today. It is the lowest single-day total reported since October 17 (44) and reflects the drop in testing mentioned above, as well as, perhaps, truly improving conditions. The new cases bring our totals to 37,385 confirmed cases and 5,740 probable cases.
40,078 residents are presumed to have come through and recovered or become inactive, while 2,563 people are currently COVID-positive. Of these, 83 are hospitalized, bringing the pandemic total for hospitalizations to 1,143. The 83 current COVID-positive hospitalizations among county residents are the lowest number reported since November 21 when there were 82 hospitalized.
Two additional deaths of Knox County residents were reported today, bringing the total to 484. One of the people whose death was reported today was between the ages of 64 and 75, while one was 75 or older.
The state is reporting Knox County has averaged 15.7% positive test results over the last seven days. As of today, 44,835 vaccinations have been given in the county and 6.78% of county residents have received at least one shot. 31,870 county residents have gotten one shot and an additional 12,905 have gotten both shots. The bulk of these, 9,465, have gotten their vaccine via the Knox County Health Department.
In additional news, the Knox County Health Department announced today that, as the state announced yesterday, they are expanding eligibility to those 70-years-old and older, a drop from the previous limit of 75 and up. As demand has continued to far outpace supply, the addition of about 21,000 to the eligibility pool could make a difficult situation more complicated. The Health Department continues to promise a website with a waitlist option.
Knox County Health Department Briefing:
Dr. Buchanan began today’s meeting stressing heart health in honor of the month. She addressed the expansion of eligibility and said it was done in response to the fact that surrounding counties had their eligibility changed by the state. By matching the surrounding counties, it was felt it would reduce confusion, though she acknowledged the supply is still not available to cover those in the previous 75+ categories.
She said over 2,000 new doses are being given this week based on last week’s shipment. She, again, mentioned the wait list system which is coming “soon.” She updated data on vaccinations, saying it the page will be updated twice a week going forward (Tuesdays and Fridays).
She reviewed the current numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths (reported above).
Did you know in advance the state was going to change eligibility? Yes.
Are you concerned the increased eligibility is going to frustrate more people? Yes.
Every week we have heard about this new sign-up system. Is there an update? We’ve finished the county bid process and county IT and our staff, as well as the company are working on it every day. We don’t know when it will be ready and want to be sure it works properly first.
Will people be able to call to get on the wait list? Yes.
You are asking for volunteers on social media. What will they do? It allows staff to do the jobs they are trained for by taking reservation and parking lot direction, etc. off their list. We are also looking for clinical people who can, for example, help give shots.
What have you learned about servicing elderly populations? We have learned that they are not as stopped by technology as everyone might have thought. Their children help and we’ve partnered with agencies for smaller events.
Any additional guidance for five core actions after vaccination? It remains the same for everyone.
People receiving cancer treatment seem to have been removed from group 1C. Why? I am not aware of that and it would be a question for the state.
Does the 70+ guideline apply to all providers? Yes.
How will the waitlist be handled to make it consistent with guidelines? You can’t register on the wait list until you are eligible.
How are appointment times and dates allocated? Availability of vaccine, second vaccine needs and available staff time.
Once the wait list is up will all appointments go through that? Yes.
How much vaccine is KCHD receiving this week? 1,950 doses for KCHD. 5,000 total doses came to the county.
Knox County Schools News:
Today’s Knox County School numbers are more reflective of trends elsewhere, with active case numbers and isolation/quarantines dropping significantly. Whether that is a variable of a beginning of the week pattern or something more long-term, we’ll see. The system is reporting 160 active cases, down from 216 the day before. Of the 160, 111 are students and 49 are staff members.
2,778 are reported as recovered, while 1,713 remain in quarantine or isolation. The isolation/quarantine number is down from 2,362 the day before. Included in the current number are 1,521 students and 192 staff members.
All metrics remain the same, with student and teacher attendance rated green, cafeteria and bus service rated green, and custodial service rated yellow, while substitute availability remains red. These metrics are for the system and do not reflect the situation at each school, which explains why some schools switch to virtual-only instruction. One additional school was added to that list today. The current list for virtual-only instruction now includes the following:
West High – February 8
Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy – February 8
Rocky Hill Elementary – February 8
University of Tennessee News:
So far, the University of Tennessee is bucking trends with slowly rising active case numbers. The school is reporting 108 active cases, up from 103 the day before. Of the active cases, 91 are students and 17 are staff members. 2,612 have recovered, while 10 additional cases were reported. 270 are in quarantine or isolation, including 124 non-residential students, 103 residential students and 43 staff members.
An additional cluster was reported, bringing the total to three since the return of students for the semester. The latest cluster was due to an off-campus gathering, making it the second such spread-event. The other cluster was in an on-campus sorority house.