Less than a year since reporting its first death, Northeast Tennessee’s novel coronavirus death toll has reached 1,000, an almost incomprehensible loss that few could have imagined when the region reported its first cases of the disease last March. That number is staggering, but it also comes at a time that deaths in the region, and the nation, have begun to slow.

So, while we are seeing positive effects of the new vaccines, and a good willingness by many to accept that they work, and to take them as they become available, we still have to come to terms with the more than 1,000 people who will not be with us to celebrate the improvements.

Ballad Health reported 78 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in its hospitals on Wednesday, a slight uptick from Monday’s total but overall remaining in line with totals reported over the past two weeks. Since dropping below 90 on Feb. 19, the first time since October hospitalizations were that low, Ballad’s inpatient census has held steady in the upper 70s. That’s much better than the peak number of 361 hospitalizations on January 5th.

After reporting a record number of new virus-related deaths in January, Northeast Tennessee’s COVID-19 deaths began declining from a record 64 reported the week of Jan. 25-31 to just 15 last week. Since Feb. 14, the region has reported an average of 2.1 deaths per day — down from 5.5 in the previous two weeks.

Over the past seven days, the decline is even more apparent, with just six COVID-19 deaths reported across the region’s eight counties. Statewide there has also been a decline in new deaths, which fell from an average of 84.7 per day the first two weeks of February to just 30.9 in the 17 days since. Tennessee has not reported more than 30 deaths since Friday, the longest streak since early September.

Tennessee will receive 54,000 doses of the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, bringing its total allocation this week to roughly a quarter of a million doses when including the weekly allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. In anticipation of that increase, the state will also move to phase 1c in its vaccination plan next week — a phase that includes more than one million Tennesseans.

To find out when you are eligible for the vaccine, and to set up an appointment to receive the vaccine, you can visit covid19.tn.gov.

A 34-year-old man died late Thursday after he jumped from a vehicle on East Oakland Avenue, according to Johnson City police.

When officers arrived in the area at 10:20p.m., they found the man, whose identity has not yet been released, with bystanders rendering aid until emergency crews arrived. The man was transported by EMS to the Johnson City Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

According to witnesses, the man was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on East Oakland Avenue and voluntarily exited the moving vehicle, causing his injuries.

Anyone having information is requested to contact the Johnson City Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at (423) 434-6166. To submit information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at (423) 434-6158.

Members of the County-Owned Property Committee voted Thursday to ask Washington County commissioners to purchase the Olde Towne Ace Hardware building in Jonesborough to meet the early voting needs of the county’s Election Commission. The recommendation now goes to the county’s Budget Committee meeting next week.

The committee’s vote followed a discussion with Election Commission officials about the office’s space needs. County Commissioner Jodi Jones, who cast the lone “no” in a voice vote on the motion, said she would like to see the county develop a plan to “maximize the use of the space” at the former hardware property. Election officials originally approached county commissioners in 2019 with a plan to buy the old hardware property for $975,000, and use another $345,000 to make renovations to the building.

The owner of the property, former Jonesborough Alderman David Sell, has granted the county a 60-day time extension for making a decision on the property.