I am not sure who saw what shadow and what it meant, but I’m feeling spring. I think maybe our winter, both seasonal and metaphoric is behind us. Last spring was beautiful in east Tennessee, but it felt devoid of the joy that usually accompanies it. This spring, we will have the wonderful east Tennessee beauty surrounding us and the promise of better days ahead. Let us celebrate while continuing to be patient.
Yesterday, the state of Tennessee reported the lowest number of new cases it has reported for a single day since October 16. Yesterday’s 689 almost dipped below that date’s 666. It’s a remarkable shift in conversation since December which featured two days over 11,000 new cases. It is worth attending to the point that the low on October 16 was followed by the first of those 11,000-day case counts by about eight weeks. We can celebrate our gains, but we must remain aware that we can reverse those gains if we drop our guards over the next several weeks.
The 689 new cases bring Tennessee’s pandemic totals to 649,664 confirmed cases and 126,029 probable cases. 750,755 cases are considered inactive, while 13,517 Tennesseans have an active case of the virus. Active case numbers continue to drop and are currently similar to mid-October. The state has averaged 1,372 new cases per day over the last seven days.
Fifteen COVID-positive Tennesseans were admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 18,620. The number currently hospitalized dropped by ten from the previous day, to 872. The number of ICU and ventilated patients also declined slightly to 243 and 123, respectively.
Ten deaths were reported by the state, bringing the total to 11,421. The daily average for deaths is 38. In less than one month, the state has gone from reporting 135 deaths per day to nearly 100 fewer.
Testing continues to be very low, with just over 9,100 tests reported yesterday, bringing the state total closer to 6.8 million. We are not testing enough, likely for several reasons, but with the reported 6.15% positive test rate, we aren’t under testing as much as it might seem. Johns Hopkins University is reporting an improving 8.8% positive test rate average over the last seven days.
The vaccination rate held close to steady in the overnight update, with weekly testing dipping slightly from yesterday. The state is reporting 1,393,334 shots have been given in the state, with 17,903 given yesterday and 240,139 given over the previous seven days. 483,057 state residents are fully vaccinated, while 12.72% have gotten at least one shot.
At the current pace, all residents of the state would be vaccinated in the next 358 days, or by February 23, 2022.
The Knox County Health Department reported 53 additional cases of COVID-19 today, bringing county totals to 39,962 confirmed cases and 7,073 probable cases. 45,158 are considered inactive, while 1,340 county residents have an active case of the virus. The active case number is the lowest it has been since November 4 (1,284).
55 COVID-positive Knox County residents are currently hospitalized, bringing the pandemic total to 1,261. The number in the hospital has stabilized in the 50-60 range for the last eleven days. Today’s number is one higher than yesterday.
One additional death was reported, with the age of the person falling between 65-74.
The state is reporting an improving 7.7% positive test rate for the county over the last seven days.
County vaccination numbers have been updated and include a significant marker, as over 100,000 (101,174) Knox County residents have received at least one vaccination. 64,760 Knox County residents have gotten their first shot only, while another 36,121 are completely vaccinated. 13.77% of the county’s population have gotten at least one shot.
To sign up on the Knox County Health Department wait list (if you are currently eligible), go here.
For a list of area providers offering the vaccination, go here.
Health Department Briefing:
Dr. Buchanan thanked the vaccination team, noting the 100,000 mark. She said we lead the four metro areas of the state in percentage fully vaccinated. She thank all the groups who are distributing vaccinations.
The health department continues to vaccinate and is using their wait-list for first doses. She said there will be large events, but also some people will be called from the list to come in when there is a smaller number available. They are also working with high risk housing facilities and with senior centers.
She said they also work with partner groups to help get the vaccines distributed and to provide educational efforts. They also work with some partner groups, such as UT, to help distribute the vaccine. Once connected to the state program, the Knox County Health Department works with the partner groups to distribute vaccinations.
She said they know the roll-out isn’t as fast as we’d all like, she is encouraged. She reminded everyone to continue practicing the five core actions. She confirmed the above numbers.
Will the J&J vaccine be available soon in Knox County? We think so and it will be added to the mix.
Is the Food City location ready? No. We will start operations there on March 12.
What are the current plans for immunizing Knox County Teachers? Our hospital partners are helping with school vaccinations. School employees are also welcome to sign up on our weight list.
How many J&J vaccines will we get? We don’t know.
How much of Knox County’s allocation has been administered? It is generally used within a week or two.
Spring Break is approaching. What is your advice? Five core actions should be maintained here or as you travel. Don’t travel if you aren’t feeling well or have been exposed. Travel only with people in your family.
When those with chronic medical conditions are added, how will people prove they have one? We will trust them.
What has the health department learned in this process? We have been reminded how important our partners have been through this.
How do you decided which pharmacies and others to which you will distribute vaccines? The state vets them and brings them on line and the partners have to commit to vaccinating the public.
Are people able to choose the vaccine they prefer? There is really no need to do that. Even the J&J is as effective as a flu shot and is 100% effective against severe illness and death.
How long is the wait list? Over 22,000. Demand continues to be high. The number on the waitlist is stable.
Why is the Health Department using Moderna? It is a bit easier to store, comes in smaller numbers in each case, which is easier, and the supply of Moderna was higher. It is possible we could switch back at a later time.
Knox County Schools News:
The Knox County School system reports 72 active cases of COVID-19, down from 88 the day before. It’s the lowest number reported since November 2, when the system reported 70. 3,319 students and staff are counted as recovered, while 843 are currently in quarantine. The number is steady or dropping slowly and is about 1/3 the number from mid-January. Of the 843, 768 are students and seventy-five are staff members.
The metrics are slightly improved from yesterday. Student attendance remains green, and teacher attendance moved from yellow to green. Cafeteria and bus service remain green, while custodial support remained red, while substitute availability rose to yellow. All schools are currently offering in-person instruction.
University of Tennessee News:
The University is reporting 56 total active cases of COVID-19, a number that has recently slowly declined. 2,931 students and staff have recovered from the virus and 4 new cases were confirmed. At 331, there are sixteen fewer students and staff in isolation or quarantine since yesterday. The number currently includes 38 staff members, 198 residential students and 96 non-residential students.
No additional clusters have been reported. Student participation in the “mandatory” pooled testing program declined once more last week, dropping from 59.6% to 56.1%. Commuting students who are given the option of participating, largely are not, with only 87 joining the effort last week. The student health center continues to test about 200 students per week, including those who are referred from the pooled testing effort. Last week, of the 199 tested, 26 tested positive.