Northeast Tennessee ended its record-breaking month for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, hospitalizations and deaths with a record number of new cases on Monday. The region’s hospital system also reported a record number of people hospitalized with the virus.

Northeast Tennessee by the numbers

  • 746 new cases in the upper eight counties for a total of 23,595.
  • 10 new deaths in Northeast Tennessee for a total of 423.
  • 266 new inactive cases for a total of 20,235.
  • 2,936 active cases in Northeast Tennessee.
  • New cases by county: Carter 111, Greene 132, Hancock 11, Hawkins 72, Johnson 25, Sullivan 156, Unicoi 40, Washington 199.
  • Active cases by county: Carter 361, Greene 414, Hancock 39, Hawkins 272, Johnson 79, Sullivan 818, Unicoi 134, Washington 819.

Local data analysis

Northeast Tennessee broke just about every COVID-19-related record there was to break in November, setting new daily, weekly and monthly high-marks for new cases, hospitalizations, deaths, tests and infections among school-age children. For the month, the region recorded 8,656 new cases, 349 new hospitalizations and 176 new deaths, far outdistancing the previous records for cases (5,910) and deaths (83) recorded in October and the record for hospitalizations (223) set in August.

The region ended the month with another record on Monday, reporting 746 new cases of COVID-19 in the upper eight counties, surpassing the previous record of 522 recorded on Saturday. Carter (+111), Greene (+132) and Washington (+199) counties also reported county records for new cases in a single-day as well.

It came on a day with a record number of new tests reported across the region. Washington County alone reported more than 1,000 tests. Overall, there were 3,614 new tests in Northeast Tennessee, of which 21.03% came back positive. No county reported a positivity rate below 10%, while the counties that reported the most new tests (Sullivan and Washington) each had positive test rates above 20%. Johnson County had the region’s highest positive test rate at 33.3% on 81 new tests.

The reason for Monday’s surge could be due to the state’s shutdowns of its reporting system on the weekends, which Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said on Nov. 17 allows for the state’s reporting system to catch up to a high volume of labs being processed.

“You’re seeing more frequent slowdowns of (the system) and sometimes delayed data just because the system is trying to keep up with the overwhelming number of tests going in there,” Piercey said at the time.

Active cases increased by 470 in the region following Monday’s record, setting a new high-mark for active cases in the region since the state adjusted how active cases are calculated on Sept. 3. Since Friday, following two record-setting days on Saturday and Monday, active cases have risen in every county in Northeast Tennessee — with active case counts rising by 30% or more in every county but Sullivan.

Hancock County had the biggest percentage increase in the region since Friday, rising by 105.26% (+20 cases). Washington County had the largest numerical increase, however, with its count rising by 221 in that time. Sullivan (818) and Washington (819) counties lead the region in active cases.

There were also 10 new fatalities reported in Northeast Tennessee — four in Sullivan County and two each in Carter, Johnson and Washington counties. Overall, 470 have died in the region — 37.44% of which were reported in November.

Hospitalizations

Ballad reported a record 260 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) inpatients across its facilities on Monday, increasing by 51 since Thanksgiving. As of Monday, there were 260 (+14) inpatients across the system’s 21 county service area in Tennessee and Virginia, of which 48 (-1) were in intensive care and 30 (no change) were on ventilators. There were eight others awaiting test results.

“We continue to see a staggering number of inpatient #COVID19 cases and an unacceptably high positive rate in our region,” Ballad stated on Twitter.

There were 18 new hospitalizations reported in Northeast Tennessee — six in Washington County, five in Carter County, four in Sullivan County and one each in Greene, Johnson and Unicoi counties.

School-age children

The region reported 119 new cases among school-age children on Monday, blowing away the previous record of 71 reported on Nov. 16. New cases were reported in Carter (+15), Greene (+15), Hancock (+2), Hawkins (+13), Johnson (+10), Sullivan (+22), Unicoi (+5) and Washington (+37).

University School reported three active infections on Monday, along with 13 others listed in quarantine. There have been 27 total infections, with 24 considered inactive.

ETSU

East Tennessee State University’s active case count fell by 14 over the weekend, down to 11 as of Monday — six employees and five students. It is one of, if not the, only times the number of cases among employees outnumbered infections among students. The number of people quarantined in ETSU housing fell by one, down to 29, which can include people who have tested positive and those awaiting results.

Mountain Home VA

The Mountain Home VA’s active case count remained at a record level on Monday, increasing from Friday’s count of 189 to a new high of 192. As of Monday, there were 1,113 (+25) total cases, of which 192 (+3) were active and 870 (+22) were considered inactive. Fifty-one (no change) have died.

Novel coronavirus in Tennessee by the numbers

  • 7,975 new cases for a total of 374,493 since tracking began in March.
  • 48 new deaths reported for a total of 4,602.
  • 2,717 new inactive cases for a total of 328,710 inactive cases.
  • 2,290 hospitalizations as of Sunday. Hospitalization data lags by one day.
  • 55,547 new tests for a total of 4.51 million.
  • 41,181 active cases.

State analysis

The state also ended a month of records with a record number of new cases, adding 7,975 new cases — surpassing the previous record of 7,951 set on Nov. 16. As a result, active cases rose by more than 5,000 to 41,181.

Tennessee also reported a new record for hospitalizations on Monday, with 2,290 people hospitalized with the virus in the state, an increase of 91 from Sunday’s count. Of those hospitalized, 603 are in the ICU and 294 are on ventilators — both of which are record highs.