24 Tennessee counties newly at “high risk” for COVID, as infections rise across the state

By: - July 20, 2022 7:00 am
Emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5 is pending. (Photo: John Partipilo)

(Photo: John Partipilo)

If it seems like more people in your orbit have been coming down with COVID recently, it’s not your imagination.

COVID is spreading again, not yet at the same high levels of last spring, but the disease is experiencing a noticeable spike in Tennessee and across the country.

One in four Tennessee counties is now at high risk for COVID-19, part of growing nationwide surge in virus that nevertheless remains an undercount as a result of widespread and unreported in-home testing, according to July 14 data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nashville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, portions of northeast Tennessee and rural western parts of the state are in the 24 counties experiencing the highest rates of COVID.

But Memphis and Knoxville are among 50 counties in Tennessee with rapidly rising levels of the virus — areas currently classified by the CDC as at “medium” risk.

Tennessee now ranks 13th in the nation for its rate of coronavirus. Hospitalizations have increased by 21% over the prior week, but inpatient levels remain far below previous surges that taxed nurses and doctors and swallowed available bed space in some of the state’s healthcare facilities.

CDC recommendations for people living in high-risk areas include wearing masks in indoor public places and remaining up-to-date on COVID vaccines. Tennessee is the 5th-least vaccinated state in the nation, based on its percentage of fully vaccinated individuals.

The CDC also advises people with symptoms to get tested and isolate from others to reduce the risk of transmitting disease.

Tennessee averaged more than 2,400 cases and seven deaths per day, according to Tennessee Department of Health data. The state’s current fatality rate from COVID hovers at about twice above the national average, according to the CDC. As of last week, the state reported that 26,772 Tennesseans have died since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 after contracting COVID.

COVID-19 Community Levels, as of July 14, 2022. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.