Vaccinations double as COVID cases increase

New daily vaccinations have about doubled in Anderson County in the 40 days since COVID-19 cases began increasing on July 12, 2021. However, the increase in average daily vaccinations has not been as large as the increase in average daily cases, according to calculations by Oak Ridge Today. And less than 50 percent of Anderson County residents are fully vaccinated. (Chart by Oak Ridge Today using Tennessee Department of Health data and Flourish)

New daily vaccinations have about doubled in Anderson County in the 40 days since COVID-19 cases began increasing.

However, the increase in the seven-day average of daily vaccinations has not been as large as the increase in cases, according to calculations by Oak Ridge Today. And less than 50 percent of Anderson County residents are fully vaccinated.

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day began rising again in Anderson County on July 12 as the United States began experiencing a fourth surge driven by the more transmissible Delta variant.

From July 12-18, Anderson County reported a daily average of five new COVID cases per day. At the same time, there were 98.4 new vaccines per day.

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Oak Ridge Schools will not require masks after governor’s order

This graph shows the total number of COVID-19 cases in Oak Ridge Schools between Wednesday, Aug. 4, and noon Friday, Aug. 19, 2021. In 2.5 weeks, the number of cases increased from nine to 152. Total cases include both current cases and recovered, and they include both student and staff cases. Gaps in the graph above are days when Oak Ridge Schools didn’t publish data on weekends or when Oak Ridge Today didn’t collect the data. (Data from Oak Ridge Schools/Chart by Oak Ridge Today using Flourish)

Oak Ridge Schools will not require face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order Monday allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates issued by school or health boards. However, Oak Ridge Schools will continue to strongly recommend students wear masks in schools where there is an increase in confirmed COVID cases or evidence of the virus being transmitted in the building.

Before the governor’s order, Oak Ridge Schools had required masks at three schools: Jefferson Middle School, Robertsville Middle School, and Willow Brook Elementary School. Now, the use of masks is strongly encouraged in those schools but not required. All three schools have reported more than 20 COVID cases each.

The governor’s order allowed parents and guardians to use a written notification to opt out of mask mandates for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Some parents and government officials supported the order, while others, including doctors and parents, opposed it. School districts in Nashville and Shelby County said they will continue to require masks. That prompted a retort from Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, who said that “the governor and the General Assembly cannot and will not allow lawful orders to be defied.”

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More than 100 COVID cases in schools this year, most mild. Four staff members hospitalized during pandemic.

This chart by Oak Ridge Schools shows the total and current number of COVID-19 cases by school and by student or staff on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

There have been more than 100 COVID-19 cases among students and staff members this school year, with most reporting mild symptoms, and a total of four staff hospitalizations reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oak Ridge Schools said Monday.

There have been no student or staff fatalities since the pandemic began, the school system said.

Monday morning, there were more than 200 students who were restricted from attending school. There were 109 cases of COVID among students and staff members on Monday evening, mostly among students. The largest number of COVID-19 cases is now at Robertsville Middle School. Until Friday, it had been at Willow Brook Elementary School.

Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers said the source of exposure to COVID-19 varies.

“A high percentage of students are unable to identify the source of exposure, while others feel the source was a family member, family gathering, or friend,” Borchers said in a response to questions Monday.

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COVID case, positivity rates rising as school resumes

A daily snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Anderson County on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, includes, among other information, the daily number of new cases and the daily positivity rate. (Graphic by Tennessee Department of Health)

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.

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Lunch with League: Math and the connection between HIV, AIDS

The role of mathematical modeling in understanding the connection between HIV and AIDS will be the focus of a March 4 Lunch with the League.

The presentation by Vitaly Ganusov starts at noon on Tuesday, March 4, in the Social Hall of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church.

“Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains one of the major causes of death due to infectious diseases, with over 35 million people being infected with the virus,” a press release said. “Since its discovery in 1983, our understanding how HIV causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has evolved with different theories being proposed and overturned by alternative theories. Mathematical modeling played an important role in generating support for some of these theories. [Read more…]