During the month of August, the Mid-Cumberland and Upper Cumberland regions of Tennessee experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases, which includes rural areas such as Trousdale and Macon counties, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH).
Throughout August, the highest number of reported new cases occurred during the week of the Aug. 14-20, with Aug. 18 being the day that showed the highest numbers in the area.
According to the TDH, from Aug. 7-20, Trousdale County had 66 reported cases of COVID, with Aug. 18 bringing 15 new cases, which is the highest number for that week.
During the same time period, Macon County had 297 new cases of COVID, where 112 were reported on Aug. 18, which was also Macon County’s highest day.
In comparison, larger Wilson County had 892 cases of COVID, with Aug. 18 also being its heaviest day with 213 new cases.
“The numbers were on the rise,” said Trousdale/Wilson County Health Department Director Adalberto Valdez. “I think getting the vaccine and the booster shots has made it so that we don’t get COVID as bad, especially with the elderly and the immunocompromised.”
Since 2020, Tennessee has been keeping track of COVID numbers on the TDH dashboard, which is updated weekly by the state health department.
“The state has a dashboard (to keep up with COVID statistics) that you can go to and check,” said Valdez. “So, they’re keeping up with the numbers via the dashboard. Then, it is up to us (the local health department) to go check the dashboard and look at the numbers. The dashboard is updated every Thursday, but sometimes, the main office downtown takes a little while to update it.”
According to TDH, cases of COVID-19 are reported to the state health department by clinicians and laboratories across Tennessee, as they are required to report known cases within 24 hours.
Although the data is still being compiled by the state on COVID 19 cases, accurate numbers may be harder to obtain as it appears that many people are opting not to test and going directly to self-quarantine as symptoms emerge. Additionally, fewer people are requesting vaccines and test kits.
“We are only doing about eight shots a week now (in Trousdale County) and only handing out about six to seven self-tests a week,” said Valdez. “I think people either have already gotten the vaccine or aren’t really relying on self-test kits anymore. Instead, they just self-quarantine.
“Trousdale County actually has higher numbers of COVID vaccines and self-test kits than Wilson County. I don’t give out that many at the health department in Wilson, but Trousdale gets 1.5 times as many.”
Since early 2020, there have been periodic spikes in COVID cases. One of the worst was in May and June of 2020, when COVID 19 was still a novel virus.
“Two years ago, I started working for the state,” said Valdez. “I was in emergency preparedness. Around May or June (of 2020), the numbers were really high. Then, it kind of dropped off, but then, we saw it spike up again.”
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), just as with other viruses, COVID can be dangerous, especially to those with chronic health conditions.
“I think COVID can still be equally as dangerous as it was in the beginning, especially to the elderly and the immunocompromised,” said Valdez. “I don’t believe that there is any herd immunity to this. There hasn’t been any positive feedback on this (issue).
“It does seem like the population is now more open to getting a vaccine. I was reading on the coronavirus dashboard that the booster shots are going to help with the new strain of the virus.”
Though data from the TDH dashboard seems to indicate that the number of new COVID cases in the area is beginning to decline, the CDC still strongly recommends following best practices.
As new strains of the coronavirus continue to emerge, the current recommendations from the CDC for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are to quarantine for a minimum of five days after its onset, and, if needed, continue isolation until any fever is gone for at least 24 hours before returning to regular activities.