JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s right there in black and white. The number of new COVID-19 cases adjusted for the region’s high population is nearly identical to the increased trend in positive test results in those tested.
Ballad Health’s Head of Infections Prevention Jamie Swift said Thursday as the hospital system struggled with the highest number of COVID-positive patients since the pandemic began.
“We know it means there’s a lot more viruses out there than we actually know.”
The percentage of 7-day positive tests for Sullivan County was 17.96% on Thursday. That’s the highest rate for Northeast Tennessee, nearly double the county rate a month ago, and nearly double the current rate for Tennessee.
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, the national rate on Thursday was 6.3%. That site showed Tennessee’s rate of 9.5% and Virginia’s rate of 6.1%.
Ballad’s 21-county market share on Thursday was 14.4 percent.
Figures are not better in six other counties of Northeastern Tennessee than in Sullivan, and only Johnson County has seen a decline over the past month.
Swift and the head of the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health both told News Channel 11 on Thursday that combined with other available data, a positive rate indicates contagion in the community. there is a risk of going out of control.
“If you don’t change the way you check over time and your numbers are going up like they are now and that’s supported by the increasing number of hospital admissions, then what you conclude is we are seeing The rise of the pandemic in our region. time, ”said Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU’s College of Public Health.
Wykoff warns against reading too much into an isolated positive rate. But he says their current level certainly shows insufficient knowledge to withdraw from the existing type of trial participation.
That’s especially true as the world waits for vaccines, even if it means that the number of crude cases increases as public health officials and others tackles critical mitigation tasks like tracing contacts.
“It’s really the best we have right now,” said Wykoff. “If you combine inspection, communication, quarantine with paying attention to wearing a mask, avoiding the crowd, staying away from society – those are the best tools we have. So for sure the more tests we do, the better we will be. “
Swift says the nearly doubling rate of positivity poses a lie to any argument that increases in new daily averages are simply the result of more testing. And she also called for continued high, if not increased, testing rates.
“If we have a lot of people who test positive, we know that there are people who don’t have untested symptoms that could be spreading the disease,” Swift said.
“What’s related to being in this area that it has grown as it once happened, and so every indicator is telling everyone in our region that COVID is here, COVID is spreading. Extremely and quickly, we have to adjust our behavior to overcome this pandemic section. “