Hamilton County, TN – The Covid-19 pandemic hit Tennessee hard during the month of December, and the Hamilton County area saw higher death rates than in previous months.
In December, the death toll from earlier months nearly doubled. In what the White House has called a winter surge, Tennessee and surrounding states are continuing to see rising cases.
At least 115 people in Hamilton County died from the virus during December, with 365 people dying in surrounding counties. This broke the record set in November, which saw 44 Hamilton County residents dying from Covid. In November, the entire region lost 189 people to the virus.
Out of the 273 local deaths, 154 were men. There were 172 deaths among white citizens and 81 among back citizens. While May saw a surge in death cases among the Hispanic community, only four of the reported deaths in December were Hispanic residents.
The entire United States is hitting the third wave of cases, deaths, and hospitalization. Records were broken across the country during December, and the Hamilton County health department had to suspend contract tracing efforts as a result of the sudden surge.
In early June, the seven day average of Covid cases in the area was 65 a day. The daily hospitalization average remained in the 30s. The second spike came in July, sending the seven day average up to 122 cases a day, and hospitalization rates went up to the 80s. Last month saw the third spike of the pandemic.
As December ended, Hamilton County was approaching a seven day average of 402 new cases daily. On the last day of the month, there were 242 hospitalizations and a total of 3,903 active cases.
The entire state of Tennessee was rated one of the worst cases for Covid last month. Tennessee was the second-worst state in a report that came out on December 27. The state was also fourth in terms of the highest test positivity rate.
A report from the White House cited Tennessee and other nearby states as experiencing a “winter surge.” The report urged anyone who is over 65, or people with underlying health conditions, not to go into indoor spaces where others aren’t wearing masks.
The report said, “No unmasked public gatherings are safe and no indoor private gatherings are safe without all members fully masked unless all members are actively taking the same precautions and regularly test negative.”
While Governor Bill Lee has encouraged Tennesseeans to wear masks, he has not ordered a statewide mandate. Instead, he has left it up to individual counties to make the decision to implement a mask mandate or not.
Now that the Covid vaccine has arrived in Hamilton County, it has given hope that the surge may finally begin to stop. Last Wednesday, it had been reported that around 3,000 Hamilton County residents had received the vaccine.
On Thursday, the distribution center on Amnicola Highway had to be closed after running out of vaccines. They are expected to reopen on January 5 after getting another shipment of doses in.