New COVID-19 cases continued rising steadily across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia — up 26% compared to last week — with nearly 1,300 people diagnosed.
Cases rose 16% across 10 Northeast Tennessee counties with 757 new cases from May 29-June 4, the most recent data available from the Tennessee Department of Health. For comparison, that is more than double the number of cases reported in the first week of May.
Across the state line in Southwest Virginia, the rise was an even sharper 43%, with 525 new cases during the period from June 2-9, compared to 366 between May 26 and June 1, according to the Virginia Department of Health. This week’s total was nearly three times the number of new cases reported during the second week of May.
While this represents an increase, case totals remain well below surge levels experienced last fall and winter.
Testing positivity continues to climb as well, with some counties over 20%, meaning 1 in 5 people tested will be positive for the novel coronavirus.
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The region’s highest seven-day average positivity rate was in Washington County, Tennessee, with 21.8%, based on an average of 117 tests per day, according to TDH. The county has generated nearly 30 new cases per day over the past 14 days, compared to 18 cases per day during the prior two weeks.
The state of Tennessee’s seven-day average is 20.8%, which ranks ninth highest nationally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.
Cases continue mounting in Sullivan County, which reported 233 cases last week, compared to 182 the week prior. Sullivan’s seven-day positivity rate was 17.2%, based on 164 tests per day over the previous seven days, the third highest average of all the state’s metropolitan health departments. Only Memphis/ Shelby County and Nashville/Davidson County were higher.
Sullivan reported nearly 30 new cases per day during the past 14 days, compared to 18 new cases per day during the prior two weeks, according to the state health department.
The combined Northeast rural departments had the third highest average number of new cases statewide.
Most of this region’s positivity rates ranged from 12.1% in Greene County to 21.7% in Unicoi, with Washington the high mark at 21.8%. Sparsely populated Hancock County reported one new case during the previous week and a positivity rate of 4.5%.
In Virginia, the city of Bristol reported 26 new COVID cases over the past week compared to 17 the week prior. Week over week increases were reported in eight other localities, with the biggest new case jumps in Wise County with 104, compared to 48; Washington County with 88, compared to 64 the week prior; and Smyth County with 55 new cases, up from 32.
The state of Virginia’s seven-day positivity rate is 18.7%, which ranks 15th highest nationally.
The Cumberland Plateau Health District’s four counties are close behind at a combined 17.8%, while Mount Rogers is at 17.2% and LENOWISCO is at 14.6%, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Twenty-five of 35 Virginia health districts are in growth trajectories, including 21 districts in surge trajectories, according to a University of Virginia model.
Wise County is classified as having “high” community levels of COVID-19, with 104 new cases in the past week. Dickenson and Lee counties are classified as having “medium” levels, and all other nearby localities are classified as “low.”
“Twelve counties in Virginia are experiencing high community levels of COVID-19. Masking in public indoor places is still recommended for those who live in these counties. Additionally 65 districts are at medium community levels. The CDC recommends persons at high risk continue to mask at these levels,” according to the university’s model.
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