COVID-19 continues to spread

Saturday, August 1, 2020
The rise of new cases of COVID-19 in Bedford County in seven-day periods from June 1 through June 28 and July 1 through July 28.
T-G Graphic by Terence Corrigan

As Bedford County schools prepare to open next week, the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the county hit a new high in the seven-day period from July 22 to July 28.

In the first 28 days of July there were 272 new cases of the coronavirus reported in Bedford County. In the first 28 days of June there were 204 new cases. That’s an increase of 33.3 percent from June to July. Playing into that increase, however, is a substantial increase in testing — from 1,352 tests (June 1 to June 28) to 3,327 tests from July 1 to July 28.

By July 28, there had been 785 cases reported in Bedford County since the pandemic first arrived in early March. Of that number 590 are listed as having recovered, 185 are listed as active cases and 10 people have died.

(The numbers from June are skewed as the state health department has no reports for June 28 when the reporting system crashed. For this report we have used the daily average of the seven-days preceding the 28th.)

Week-to-week increases of new cases in Tennessee.
T-G Photo by Terence Corrigan

Age ranges

Of the 761 cases of COVID-19 reported by July 26 in Bedford County, 18 percent (137) were between the ages of 0 and 20 — 88 were school age, from 5 to 18 years old.

The largest number of infections in Bedford County were in those age 21 to 40 years (345) followed by those age 41 to 60 (208).

The testing rate in Bedford County is adequate based on standards recommended by Harvard University epidemiologist William Hanage. According to Hanage, to determine if you’re conducting an adequate number of tests the percentage of positives should come back at 10 percent or less of the total number of tests. The lower the percentage the greater the accuracy. If the percentage of positive tests is higher than 10 percent, Hanage said, not enough people are being tested. According to the World Health Organization, before an area can relax restrictions and begin reopening, the test positivity rate should be at or below 5 percent for at least 14 days.

In July, Bedford County’s positive test rate has been 8.17 percent. The statewide positive test rate for July (July 1 through July 28) was 10 percent.

However, according to the COVID Tracking Project, using methods developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, Tennessee’s testing program is far short of what it should be. The Tracking Project says Tennessee’s program is only 32 percent of what it should be to “mitigate the spread of the virus.” Tennessee is one of 37 states that is “far below the target.” Tennessee is 11th from the bottom of the pack with its testing rate of 374 tests per 100,000.

Other areas

In neighboring Rutherford County, the testing rate has been far below the recommended amount. In 14 days (from July 12 to July 26) there were 7,467 tests conducted and 1,864 tested positive for the virus — that a positive rate of 25 percent.

The number of people hospitalized in Tennessee continues to increase. From July 21 to July 30, 860 Tennesseans were hospitalized due to the coronavirus. From July 21 to July 30, 186 Tennesseans have died. The recovery rate is not keeping up with the number of new infections. In the first 28 days of July, the state reported that there were 55,485 new cases and 27,993 people had recovered.

The two highest daily case increases have both been in July. On July 13, there were 3,314 new cases reported in Tennessee. On July 26, there were 3,140 new cases reported statewide.

Nationwide, there have been 52,985, 577 coronavirus tests conducted. There have been 4.3 million cases reported and 141,430 people have died. According to the COVID Tracking Project, the spread of the virus is “uncontrolled” in Tennessee with a 14 day increase of 11 percent.