New COVID-19 cases rose steadily in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia — up 26% from last week — with nearly 1,300 people diagnosed.
Cases rose 16% in 10 counties in northeast Tennessee with 757 new cases from May 29 to June 4, the latest available data from the Tennessee Department of Health. For comparison: That is more than twice as many cases as in the first week of May.
Across the state line in Southwest Virginia, the increase was even stronger by 43%, with 525 new cases between June 2 and June 9, compared to 366 between May 26 and June 1, according to the Virginia Department of Health. This week’s total was almost three times the number of new cases reported in the second week of May.
Although this represents an increase, the number of cases remains well below the increase values of last autumn and winter.
Test positivity also continues to rise, with some counties topping 20%, meaning 1 in 5 people tested will test positive for the novel coronavirus.
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The region’s highest seven-day mean positivity rate was in Washington County, Tennessee, at 21.8%, based on an average of 117 tests per day, according to TDH. The county has generated nearly 30 new cases per day for the past 14 days, compared to 18 cases per day for the previous two weeks.
Tennessee’s seven-day average is 20.8%, which ranks ninth nationally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.
Cases continue to rise in Sullivan County, where 233 cases were reported last week, compared to 182 the week before. Sullivan’s seven-day positivity rate was 17.2% based on 164 tests per day in the previous seven days, the third-highest average of any city health department in the state. Only Memphis/Shelby County and Nashville/Davidson County were higher.
Sullivan reported nearly 30 new cases per day for the past 14 days, compared to 18 new cases per day for the previous two weeks, according to the state health department.
The combined rural divisions in the Northeast had the third-highest average number of new cases nationwide.
Most positivity rates in this region ranged from 12.1% in Greene County to 21.7% in Unicoi, with Washington reaching the highest mark at 21.8%. Sparsely populated Hancock County reported one new case and a 4.5% positivity rate in the previous week.
In Virginia, the city of Bristol reported 26 new COVID cases last week, compared to 17 the week before. Week-over-week increases were reported in eight other locations, with the largest jumps in new cases in Wise County, at 104 from 48; Washington County at 88, down from 64 the week before; and Smyth County with 55 new cases down from 32.
The state of Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is 18.7%, which ranks 15th nationally.
The four counties of the Cumberland Plateau Health District are close behind with a combined 17.8%, while Mount Rogers is at 17.2% and LENOWISCO at 14.6%, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
According to a University of Virginia model, 25 of Virginia’s 35 health districts are on growth paths, including 21 districts on growth paths.
Wise County is classified as having “high” levels of COVID-19 in the community with 104 new cases over the past week. Dickenson and Lee counties are rated as ‘moderate’ and all other nearby locations are rated as ‘low’.
“Twelve counties in Virginia have high levels of community COVID-19. Masking in indoor public places is still recommended for those living in those counties. In addition, there are 65 districts at the middle level of the municipality. The CDC recommends that high-risk individuals continue to mask at these levels,” according to the university’s model.
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