Anderson County has reported 89 new COVID-19 cases in a week as the infection rate increases and officials across the country warn of the spread of the delta variant, especially among the unvaccinated. The increase in Anderson County mirrors what is happening across Tennessee, where new cases have surged from a few hundred each day to more than 2,500 each day while hospitalizations have more than quadrupled.
The positivity rate, a measure of the positive tests each day, has been 10 percent or higher in Anderson County four times since July 12. It hit a high of 24 percent on July 20, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health. Ten percent is high, and World Health Organization guidelines have called for keeping the positivity rate below 5 percent.
The county’s 89 new cases in a week, from July 22 to July 28, is an average of 12.7 new cases per day. That average is 32 times higher than the low seven-day average of 0.4 new cases per day reported about three weeks ago, on July 6.
The seven-day new case average is now the highest it’s been about since about March 23. That’s when COVID-19 cases were in the middle of a slow months-long decline after a winter peak in November, December, and January.
A recent single-day report of new cases in Anderson County was also the highest it had been in months, since March. Twenty-three new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday, July 26. The county hadn’t reported that many cases in one day since March 31.
For about a month, from roughly June 8 to July 11, the seven-day average of new COVID cases in Anderson County was about one new case per day. The low was the 0.4 new cases per day reported on July 6.
But since July 12, the seven-day new case average has been steadily climbing. It exceeded 10 new cases per day on Monday for the first time since April 28.
When the daily new case average was low for about a month between early June and early July, the positivity rate was also low. It was down to about 2 percent to 3 percent. But like the seven-day new case average, the average positivity rate has also been rising. The seven-day average was 9.4 percent in the week ending Wednesday, July 28. The single-day positivity rate on Wednesday was 14 percent. The positivity rate measures what percentage of COVID-19 tests are positive out of all the tests each day.
The reversals in case and positivity rates have occurred as the more transmissible delta variant spreads across the country, including in Tennessee.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox. An internal document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “captures the struggle of the nation’s top public health agency to persuade the public to embrace vaccination and prevention measures, including mask-wearing, as cases surge across the United States and new research suggests vaccinated people can spread the virus,” the newspaper reported.
New research has led the CDC to reverse its guidance on masks among people who are vaccinated. In May, people were told they no longer needed to wear masks indoors or outdoors if they had been vaccinated. However, at least locally, it appeared that most people stopped wearing masks, vaccinated or not. Now, the CDC says even people who are vaccinated should wear face masks indoors in communities with substantial viral spread or when in the presence of people who are particularly vulnerable to infection and illness, The Washington Post reported.
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended that all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in schools wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, CNN reported. So far, very few school districts in Tennessee are reported to be requiring masks, and they are not required in Oak Ridge. School resumed in Oak Ridge on Wednesday.
In Tennessee, the number of new COVID-19 cases per day has risen from a few hundred about a month ago to about 2,200 on Wednesday and almost 2,600 on Thursday. Current hospitalizations have increased from a few hundred a month ago to 893 on Thursday.
There have been 891,331 COVID-19 cases and 12,730 deaths in Tennessee since the pandemic began March 5, 2020.
In Anderson County, there have been 8,975 cases, 179 deaths, and 234 hospitalizations.
You can access data from the Tennessee Department of Health here.
See the county data here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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