By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
UPPER CUMBERLAND – As COVID-19 hits record numbers across the state, the Upper Cumberland also sees a spike in cases. Numbers released late Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Health revealed 2,488 active cases within the 14-county region. There have been 300 deaths, with Putnam County responsible for almost 25% at 74.
Putnam County, the U.C.’s economic center and home to Tennessee Tech, has been hit the hardest. There are 472 active cases in the county, and 11.2% of those tested are receiving positive results. Numbers are spiking in the schools also. Putnam County has 58 confirmed positive cases and has 313 quarantined.
Tennessee Tech has seen its numbers steadily increasing. Thursday, there were 91 reported cases, an increase in 32 positive cases since Monday. Most of Tech’s cases (62) are students living off-campus.
Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is seeing its resources stretched. Sixty-two patients are being treated for COVID. Of that number, 15 are in the ICU, with 10 on ventilators. CRMC is at 35.7% of its ICU capacity with COVID patients, but it can add additional beds if needed.
Putnam is not the only county seeing large numbers of active cases. The other micropolitan areas of the region are seeing increased numbers also. Warren County has 375 active cases, while Cumberland County has 334 active cases.
Numbers of active cases across the region include Cannon (125), Clay (61), DeKalb (171), Fentress (93), Jackson (91), Macon (217), Overton (98), Pickett (39), Smith (177), Van Buren (63) and White (172).
Except for Putnam, deaths do not follow population trends across the region. Putnam at 74 deaths has more than double the number of any other U.C. county. Cumberland has lost 34 residents to the virus.
Deaths from COVID-19 across the region include Cannon (2), Clay (18), DeKalb (20), Fentress (19), Jackson (9), Macon (27), Overton (33), Pickett (12), Smith (17), Van Buren (2) and White (17).
The majority of COVID cases are being traced back to social gatherings.
“You can definitely make a correlation that large gatherings, not properly socially distancing and not wearing a mask is definitely contributing to our numbers in our community – and throughout not only our community but the state and throughout the nation. As more people are getting out, it’s causing this virus to spread,” said Paul Korth, CRMC CEO.
There are ways to slow the spread of this virus, but it will require that people do their part.
“Our message is very simple, wear a mask when you are out in the public, practice social distancing, get your flu shot,” added Tennessee Hospital Association (THA) President and CEO Wendy Long, M.D., M.P.H.