As the COVID-19 numbers continue to be encouraging at every level from international to local, its important that we continue to be cautious a bit longer. It is tempting to relax our behaviors as if the battle is won, but it isn’t. Turning? I think so. With the dropping new case, hospitalization and positive test numbers and beginning signs of a declining death rate, there is much to celebrate.
Vaccination numbers are increasing as we get closer to 10% of Knox County residents with at least one shot. If we maintain the five core actions – all. the. time. -, the vaccines increase and the weather turns warm, we could be looking at a really wonderful summer, at least by pandemic standards. Stay strong.
Tennessee reported an additional 1,226 cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing state COVID-19 totals to 629,838 confirmed cases and 115,988 probable cases. 707,098 are inactive while 28,162 Tennesseans have an active case of the virus. While the number of active cases has remained relatively stable for about a week, average daily case numbers continue to drop, though more slowly. The average number of cases over the last seven days is 2,377 per day, falling from 2,680 a week earlier.
Continuing a recent trend of fewer hospitalizations, thirty-nine COVID-positive Tennesseans were reported admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 17,695 hospitalized. As with case numbers, current hospitalizations continue to fall, but show some sign of leveling off. 1,285 COVID-positive Tennesseans are currently hospitalized, down from 1,309 the day before. Similarly, the number in ICUs (381) and on ventilators (206) are showing signs of slowing their decline.
After a startlingly low number of deaths reported on Sunday (6), deaths returned to similar levels to last week, with the state reporting 97 deaths for the day. The death total in the state from COVID-19 is now 10,566. Over the last seven days, the state has averaged 106 deaths each day.
Testing, which had notched four consecutive days of levels close to what had previously been normal in the state, dropped, once again to extremely low levels, with fewer than 12,000 tests reported for the day. Even with the drop in test numbers, however, the state reported an excellent (for us in recent times) 8.6% positive test rate. Johns Hopkins University has the state seven-day average at 10.7%.
Through yesterday, the state reported a total of 848,930 vaccines have been given, including 9,089 the previous day, and 165,212 for the week. 265,146 Tennesseans have gotten both doses of the vaccine. At the current rate, every Tennessean could be vaccinated in the next 543 days, or by August 6, 2022.
Paralleling the drop in state testing reported yesterday, new cases reported for Knox County dropped to 81 today, less than half the number reported the day before. The county has now reported 38,260 confirmed cases and 6,144 probable cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Inactive cases now total 41,600, while active cases total 2,302.
As the dramatic drop in new case numbers has leveled out and the active cases produced by the previous high numbers of new cases have worked their way out of the tallies, active case numbers are leveling off in the low-to-mid 2,000 range. Today’s active case count is down just eight from yesterday but is higher than the previous three days. Current active case numbers are roughly at the level last seen in early December.
62 COVID-positive Knox County residents are currently hospitalized, bringing the pandemic total in the county to 1,175. While it is early to tell if hospitalizations are leveling off or rather briefly pausing, today’s number is up four from yesterday’s report. It is a rare recent increase and the largest day-over-day increase in nearly three weeks.
Two additional deaths were reported today, including one person between the ages of 65 and 74, and another 75 years of age or older. 502 Knox County residents have now died of the virus.
The state is reporting a12.1% positive test result rate for the county.
Vaccination numbers have been updated for Knox County, through 2/9 and reflect 56,424 shots have been given in the county. 17,409 Knox County residents are fully vaccinated, while 38,942 have had the first shot only. 8.28% of county residents have had at least one shot.
Knox County Health Department Briefing:
Dr. Buchanan began the day by thanking the Knox County and KCHD IT departments who have developed the new COVID platform. The wait list will be available tomorrow morning at 8:30 for currently qualifying Knox County residents. Those who sign up will be contacted for an appointment. The appointments will be used for KCHD as well as other providers. A stand-by list will also be available for those who can quickly get to a vaccination site if all vaccine is not used.
She confirmed the above COVID-19 and vaccination numbers.
How does Knox County track how much vaccine it dispenses? The state gets a set amount and determines which counties get the vaccine. It is divided between the various providers.
Going forward, where will vaccinations happen? We will do clinics at multiple locations, including the Expo location and another location we are looking at. We may use churches or other locations, but we need adequate parking, room for many people to be vaccinated at once, and a location where they can exit without crossing paths with those coming in.
When might mask mandates and social gathering limits be lifted? It will be a while, but we are looking to the CDC.
When will teachers be vaccinated in Knox County? When we have vaccinated those on the list before them.
Will vaccines be set aside for teachers? Some providers will do that. We have never set aside vaccine for only one group, it is for everyone currently eligible.
If wintry weather impacts clinics, how will people with appointments be notified? Via media, as always.
Once someone is on the wait list, will they know where they are in line? No. It simply means we have a list which we can work through as we have available vaccine.
What happens with call-in requests? People who call 311 will have their name added by the person answering at that time.
Are there punishments for people who lie to get an earlier vaccine? No. We have had it happen, but we trust people to be honest. We turned some away who do not currently qualify. Vaccine clinics are happy places because people want the vaccine.
Who are some of the primary partners? We let them announce in order to preserve their phone systems.
What is the impact of vaccinations on other services? We’ve had to limit some of our other services. WIC is higher than ever after moving to virtual, as are many home visits.
Do you need volunteers? Yes. We are increasing those as we go. It allows us to be in different places at the same time, helping us and our partners.
Are you encouraged by the numbers among long-term care facilities? Yes, my understand in most of those are complete and assisted living facilities are being vaccinated.
Have you had people be diagnosed with COVID after their first shot? Yes. It happens with the flu every year. They had it when they were vaccinated or got it soon afterward.
Knox County Schools News:
The Knox County School system reported active cases fell by the end of the day yesterday to 175, from 191 reported at the end of the day on Friday. The active cases include 127 students and 48 staff members. 2,935 are reported to have recovered, while isolation and quarantine numbers dropped nearly 200 to 1,915. Of those in isolation or quarantine, 1,724 are students and 191 are staff members.
The staff attendance metric returned to green and custodial support returned to yellow, as the metrics once more reflect the ratings they have held for most of the year: Student and Teacher attendance, as well as cafeteria and bus service are all rated green, while custodial support is rated yellow and substitute support is red.
In a bit of a recent rarity, there are no schools currently relegated to virtual-only instruction.
University of Tennessee News:
Active cases reported by the University of Tennessee continue to drift downward, with a drop of four today, to 85. Only 2 new cases were reported today, yet the isolation and quarantine number rose by almost 30 to 289. Of these, 47 are staff members, 131 are residential students and 111 are non-residential.
No additional clusters have been reported since February 1. For the week ending February 7, 4,140 samples were collected for pooled saliva testing, including 4,022 from residential students and 118 from commuters. 14 positive tests ultimately resulted, all from residential student samples. Compliance with the mandatory testing program for residential students was 63.4%, a drop of nearly 8% from the week before.