Note: This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. July 28.
The COVID-19 case and positivity rates are rising in Anderson County as school resumes in Oak Ridge. More than 100 new COVID-19 cases, four hospitalizations, and three deaths have been reported since mid-July. The positivity rate, a measure of how many COVID-19 tests are positive each day, is about 10 percent, which exceeds World Health Organization guidelines.
Cases in Tennessee have surged from a low of a few hundred new cases per day about a month ago to roughly 2,100 new cases on Tuesday. Current hospitalizations across the state have climbed from a low of a few hundred to 762. Fifty-one hospitalizations were reported Tuesday.
In the past two weeks, the rate of new COVID-19 cases per day in Anderson County has steadily climbed from a low of about one new case per day in Anderson County to 7.6 new cases per day. The county reported 112 new cases of COVID-19 between Monday, July 12, and Tuesday, July 27, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health. (See also here and here.)
There were 74 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the week between Tuesday, July 20, and Monday, July 26. That’s an average of about 10.6 new cases per day. The one-week average of 10.6 new cases per day was higher than the 14-day case average of 7.6 reported by the state.
Two new deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in Anderson County on Monday, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the deaths occurred Monday because the state reporting can lag a few days behind when the deaths occurred.
Also in the last two weeks, the positivity rate has climbed from about 2.3 percent on Monday, July 12, to 9.3 percent on Tuesday, July 27. The WHO has recommended a positivity rate below 5 percent.
School resumes in Oak Ridge on Wednesday. The school system required face masks in schools last year when physical distancing wasn’t possible, but the masks aren’t required this school year. Cases in Anderson County had declined after a peak in December and January, and they hit a one-year low of about one new case per day in late June and early July. After the slow months-long decline, masks were optional in Oak Ridge Schools this summer.
COVID-19 vaccinations are not required in Oak Ridge Schools, although the school system and Anderson County Health Department offered free vaccines to students 12 or older this summer.
Cases are now surging again across the country, including in Tennessee and Anderson County, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. This is the third national surge and the first since vaccines became widely available.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated Americans in parts of the country with “substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19 should begin wearing masks indoors again, according to CBS News. Some 63 percent of U.S. counties currently have a “high” or “substantial” spread of the virus, according to the CDC.
The CDC said masks should be required of everyone inside K-12 schools, including students, teachers, and staff.
The agency recommended that all vaccinated people consider wearing a mask if someone in their household was unable to be protected by the vaccine, like those with compromised immune systems or children who are too young to receive a shot, regardless of transmission levels in their community, CBS News reported.
Officials across the country have been urging people to get vaccinated when they can to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Officials in several states have said most of the people now getting seriously ill, needing hospitalization, and dying are unvaccinated.
In Anderson County, there have been 8,938 COVID-19 cases, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. About 11.6 percent of the county’s 77,000 residents have been infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
There have been 234 hospitalizations and 179 deaths since the pandemic began March 20, 2020. That’s a hospitalization rate of about 2.6 percent and a fatality rate of 2 percent.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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