Northeast Tennessee reported fewer than 500 new tests on Friday, keeping the positive test rate well above 10% and causing a drop in the number of new and active cases in the region.

In a tweet, the Tennessee Department of Health said its reporting system experienced technical issues, causing a backlog of cases and lower-than-normal testing numbers. The tweet said the TDH anticipates higher-than-normal numbers over the next few days as the backlog is cleared.

Northeast Tennessee by the numbers

  • 68 new cases in the upper eight counties, for a total of 11,172.
  • 197 total deaths. No new deaths were reported on Friday.
  • 105 new projected inactive cases for a total of 9,435.
  • 1,540 estimated active cases in Northeast Tennessee.
  • New cases by county: Carter 7, Greene 9, Hancock 0, Hawkins 4, Johnson 0, Sullivan 29, Unicoi 0, Washington 19.
  • Active cases by county: Carter 115, Greene 193, Hancock 2, Hawkins 134, Johnson 266, Sullivan 487, Unicoi 33, Washington 310.

Local data analysis

With the state’s technical issues leading to massive decreases in new tests and cases, it’s hard to draw any conclusions from Friday’s data.

With just 442 tests reported in the region, NETN reported its third day with a positive test rate above 10% this week, and the second day in a row. There were 72 new positive tests of the 442 reported, which put the positive rate for Friday at 16.29%. Through 16 days in October, the region has reported a positive test rate greater than 10% more times (nine) than it has been below it (seven).

In Northeast Tennessee, Sullivan County conducted the third-most tests (102), but had the highest positivity rate at 30.3%. Of the eight counties, six reported a positivity rate above 10%: Carter (17.2%, +58 tests), Hawkins (16.6%, +24), Johnson (25%, +4), Sullivan, Unicoi (20%, +10) and Washington (18.5%, +113) counties. Greene County conducted the most tests (125), and had the second lowest positive rate at 2.4%. Hancock County only conducted six tests, but did not have any positives.

As a result of the low number of tests, new cases fell by nearly 200 from Thursday, while active cases dropped by 37. Only one county, Sullivan, reported an increase in active cases.

Hancock and Unicoi counties had no change in their active case counts. The region’s total sits at 1,540, still the second-highest total since the state’s reporting adjustment.

Nursing homes

Local nursing homes reported 41 new cases among residents and 28 among staff, in addition to eight more resident deaths compared to last week’s total.

As of Friday, there have been 726 resident and 513 staff cases across 33 facilities in every county but Hancock, resulting in 101 deaths.

Nursing homes account for 51.2% of the region’s deaths, but only 6.4% of the region’s cases.

Statewide, there have been 5,877 cases of COVID-19 among residents and 5,198 among staff. Of the residents who tested positive, 834 have died — including 17 at a nursing home in Morristown, the Tennessean reported Friday.

Hospitalizations

After increasing by 14 on Thursday, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Ballad Health facilities decreased by two to 108 on Friday. Of those hospitalized, 17 were in intensive care and six were on ventilators — decreases of one and two, respectively, from Thursday. Seven others were awaiting test results.

There were five new hospitalizations reported in the region on Friday: Two in Sullivan County and one each in Greene, Hawkins and Unicoi counties. Since Monday, 27 people have been hospitalized in the region, the most since late September.

School-age children

There were 11 new cases among school-age children reported Friday: 5 in Washington, two each in Carter and Sullivan and one each in Greene and Hawkins counties.

ETSU

Since Monday, East Tennessee State University has reported six new cases of COVID-19, and has an active case count of nine — a drop of one from Wednesday. All of those currently infected are students. There were 12 people quarantined in ETSU housing as well, a drop of two from Wednesday. That total can include confirmed cases and those awaiting test results.

Two new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the overall total to 258: 215 students and 43 staff members. ETSU updates its data on weekday evenings, and this data is from Thursday night.

Mountain Home VA

The Veterans Affairs facility at Mountain Home reported six new cases on Friday but no change in the number of active cases, which held steady at 71. No new deaths were reported. Mountain Home has reported 571 (+6) total cases, of which 469 (+6) are considered inactive. Thirty-one have died.

Cases attributed to Mountain Home reflect people tested or treated at the facility for known or probable COVID-19 infection.

Mountain Home officials are not saying where the deaths or cases are concentrated, citing privacy concerns, but did say cases are reflected in data released by the state daily.

Novel coronavirus in Tennessee by the numbers

  • 666 new cases for a total of 223,493 since tracking began in March. 212,682 confirmed and 10,811 probable.
  • 7 new deaths reported for a total of 2,871.
  • 201,831 projected inactive cases.
  • 1,140 hospitalizations as of Thursday. Hospitalization data lags by one day.
  • 5,750 new tests for a total of 3.26 million.

State data analysis

Similar to what was written earlier, the state’s reporting system issue makes it difficult to take much stock in Friday’s state numbers as well. With only 5,750 new tests, the state reported fewer than 1,000 new cases (666) for the first time in 11 days. It also led to a positive test rate above 10% in the state.

Seven new deaths were reported, bringing the toll since Monday to 104.

Active cases dropped by just over 1,000 on Friday, down to 18,791 from 19,799 on Thursday.