In the first full week of the new year, Northeast Tennessee has set a record for novel coronavirus-related (COVID-19) deaths in a single week, reporting 63 since Monday.
Nine new virus-related fatalities were reported across the region’s eight counties on Friday, breaking the previous record for weekly deaths (58) set in mid-December.
Sullivan (17) and Washington (17) counties accounted for more than half of the region’s deaths this week. Carter (12) was the only other county in the region to report double-digit deaths since Monday. Greene County reported nine deaths and Hawkins reported five in that time.
A total of 720 (+9) Northeast Tennesseans have been reported dead as a result of the virus, a toll that increased by more than 50% (247) in the past month. The statewide death toll increased by a similarly high percentage in the past month. Tennessee’s toll rose by 52.08%, compared to the region’s 52.21% increase. Tennessee added 2,609 deaths in that time.
While the region’s weekly death record fell Friday, the state’s will likely follow on Saturday, as it was 16 below the record of 609 reported between Dec. 14 and 20.
Also on Friday, the U.S. topped 4,000 COVID-19-related deaths in a single day, breaking the one-day record set the day before.
Ballad reports second-highest number of new admissions as COVID-19 inpatients fall
Ballad Health on Friday reported a near-record 59 patients admitted to its hospitals with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, though its overall COVID-19 inpatient census fell by four as the hospital system reported a record number of discharges.
Ballad began reporting admissions and discharges on Dec. 9.
As of Friday, there were 346 (-4) patients hospitalized with the virus across its hospitals, with 67 (-1) in intensive care and 39 (-2) on ventilators. The number of critical care patients, though down from peaks of 77 ICU patients (Dec. 29) and 48 ventilator patients (Dec. 30), has remained steady over the past two weeks — with an average count of 66 ICU patients and 40 ventilator patients since Dec. 26.
There were 49 COVID-designated beds still available Friday, down from 62 on Thursday.
Active cases rise for second straight day
Northeast Tennessee’s active case count reached a January high of 4,852 on Friday, increasing by 361 from Thursday’s count. Hancock was the only county in the region to not see an increase in active cases.
Washington County’s active case count rose by 130, about 36% of the region’s increase. Sullivan County’s total rose by 85. Johnson County’s active case total reached 141 on Friday, an increase of 27 from Thursday. It was the most active cases since late October, when a Johnson County prison outbreak sent the county’s active case total above 300.
As of Jan. 7, the Tennessee Department of Correction was reporting no active cases among prisoners at the Northeast Correctional Complex, though there were 10 COVID-positive employees that have yet to return to work.
Washington (1,311) and Sullivan (1,237) counties continue to be the only ones in the region with more than 1,000 active cases. There were 15 counties in Tennessee with more than 1,000 active cases on Friday, of which Washington County’s total ranked 10th and Sullivan’s 11th.