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Washington County active COVID-19 infections rise by 21; adds 39 new cases

Washington County reported an increase of 21 active COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 275.

That’s 100 below Sullivan County’s region-leading number.

Overall, Northeast Tennessee saw a net increase of five active cases from Tuesday, with most reported in Washington County. Hawkins (8) and Johnson (1) counties were the only other counties in the region to see an increase in their active case counts.

There are 1,013 active cases in the region, 37.6% higher than the low of 736 on March 10.

Washington County has seen substantial growth in its active case count over the past two weeks, growing from 163 on March 10 to 275 Wednesday — a 68.7% increase, second-highest behind Johnson County’s (29 active cases) 141.6% increase over the same time. Washington County has seen the largest numeric increase since then however, its count growing by 112.

The county also added the most new cases in the region on Wednesday with 39, bringing its seven-day total to 201. Sullivan (249 cases in past seven days) and Washington counties account for 62.3% of the region’s new cases over the past week, slightly more than their share of the region’s population (56.1%).

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Ballad reports drop in hospitalizations

Ballad Health’s COVID-19 inpatient census fell by eight from Monday, dropping to 83 with 18 (-2) people in intensive care and 11 (+3) on ventilators.

The 83 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across Ballad’s facilities matched the total reported last Friday, but remained above last Monday’s 67 hospitalizations — the lowest reported since September. The 91 reported on Monday was the most since Feb. 17.

Regional health office expands vaccine eligibility

The Northeast Regional Health Office expanded vaccine eligibility to all adults on Wednesday, allowing everyone 16 and older to seek a vaccine in the region.

The move to expand vaccine eligibility comes after Gov. Bill Lee announced on Monday that every adult in the state would be eligible no later than April 5. The Sullivan County Regional Health Department announced it would be expanding eligibility on Tuesday, going into effect today.

Visit vaccinate.tn.gov to schedule an appointment, or call (423) 979-4689 if you need assistance. The NRHO oversees health departments in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties.

Ballad changes location for Saturday vaccine event in Kingsport, Norton

Ballad also announced a change to the location for Saturday’s vaccination events in Kingsport and Norton. The walk-in events will now be held at:

  • 2205 Pavilion Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee.
  • 310 3rd St. NE, Norton, Virginia.

The vaccination events are open to anyone 16 and older, and will be held Saturday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

COVID-19: Interactive charts and graphs

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Chipotle Mexican Grill to open at mall on March 31

Chipotle Mexican Grill will open its first Tri-Cities location at The Mall at Johnson City on March 31, the shopping center announced in a press release Wednesday.

Chipotle is a fast-casual restaurant specializing in build-your-own tacos, burritos, salads and bowls, and will feature a Chipotlane, the brand’s drive-thru mobile/digital order pick-up lane, where customers can retrieve pre-placed orders without leaving their car.

The restaurant was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Southern California. Before the Johnson City location, the mall said that Knoxville was Chipotle’s closest location to the Tri-Cities.

The Johnson City Chamber of Commerce will celebrate opening day with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. March 31.

“Bringing the first Chipotle Mexican Grill to market is paramount,” said Ashley Grindstaff, general manager at the Mall at Johnson City, in a press release. “We are looking forward to celebrating the opening of Chipotle while keeping the health of shoppers our top priority and providing the safest experience possible.”

The restaurant will be in a new multi-tenant building along North Roan Street, which used to be the Sears Auto Center. It’ll share a building with Chicken Salad Chick, another restaurant that is expected to open in April.

Chicken Salad Chick announced on its Facebook page Wednesday that it would hold a grand opening for its Johnson City location on April 13. The first 100 guests, the restaurant said, will receive free chicken salad for a year.