Greene County ended 2020 with 35 new COVID-19 cases reported, topping the 5,500 mark for the year.

The 35 new cases of the coronavirus were reported for Greene County on Thursday, according to the daily update from the Tennessee Department of Health. Since March, 5,517 have contracted the illness.

Currently, 735 people in the county have active cases of the virus and 4,690 have inactive cases as they are beyond the 14-day mark of a positive test or onset of symptoms.

Greeneville remains in the top 20 metro areas in the country with the most new cases in the past two weeks. According to data compiled by The New York Times from public health departments, Greeneville was ranked 15th on Thursday among metro areas for the most new cases in the past two weeks. Other Tennessee towns in the top 20 were Sevierville at third and Cookeville at 17th.

Four counties in Northeast Tennessee had more new cases than Greene on Thursday. Sullivan County had the most with 123.

One person from Greene County was hospitalized to treat the virus during the 24-hour period covered in the Department of Health report. Since March, 146 people have required hospital care to treat the illness.

On Thursday, Ballad Health reported that there are 335 patients in its facilities being treated for COVID-19. This is the second time in the past month that the system has had that number of virus patients, the highest yet during the pandemic.

Six people had been admitted to hospitals with coronavirus symptoms who were awaiting their test results at the time of the report. Thirty-three beds remain open throughout the system for COVID-19 patients.

There were 73 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, with 43 of those on ventilators, according to the Ballad Health scorecard.

Currently, there are 149 people with active cases receiving treatment at the James H. Quillen VA Healthcare System at Mountain Home, according to the Veterans Administration. Of those cases, 124 are veterans, 23 employees of the medical facility and two who are both veterans and employees. Since the pandemic began, 1,642 people have been treated at Mountain Home for the virus and 83 people have died.

On Thursday, the positive rate was 28.8% for the past seven days in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region Ballad Health serves, according to the system. For Greene County, the positive rate has averaged 20.4% for the past seven days, or an average of one in five people tested had the virus, according to data from the state Department of Health.

The positivity rate is an indicator of how widespread the virus is in a community, and the new cases serve as an indicator of how many people will require hospitalization for the illness. Ballad Health officials indicate that since the pandemic began, around 8% of individuals contracting the virus will require hospitalization. The increase in new cases in the past two months has led the health system to take measures to increase its capacity to care for COVID-19 patients, including deferring all elective surgeries to mid-January.

No new deaths from the virus were reported locally on Thursday. Ninety-two people have died from the virus in Greene County during the pandemic.

Ninety-seven deaths statewide were reported Thursday by the state Department of Health.

Nationwide, more than 340,000 people have now died from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tennessee’s new virus cases increased by 5,992 on Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 586,802 people have contacted the virus in Tennessee.

While Tennessee was the top state in the nation over the weekend in regards to average new daily cases, it was second on Thursday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. The state is now behind California in the average number of new cases per 100,000 residents. California was at 94.8 and Tennessee at 80.7. Of the 50 states, Hawaii was the lowest at 6.6.

Most people who contract COVID-19 will become only mildly or moderately ill, according to health experts. However, for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, it can cause serious illness and can be fatal.

Tests are being administered by the Greene County Health Department from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center site on East Andrew Johnson Highway. No appointment is necessary.

At the Greene Valley testing site, self-testing kits will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to adults with results available online. Testing will be available for those under age 18 and adults who are not able to register online may receive the standard nasal swab tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Free self-swab tests are now available at the CVS Pharmacy location on the Asheville Highway for those who meet Centers for Disease Control qualifications. An appointment is required and can be made at CVS.com.

Ballad Health asks anyone concerned they may have the virus to call the system’s Nurse Connect line at 833-822-5523 to be scheduled for testing at the individual’s nearest testing site. The line is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tests may also be scheduled using the Ballad Health app or on its website. Testing is taking place at Greeneville Community Hospital West at 401 Takoma Ave.

Those who need to speak to someone about mental and emotional challenges the coronavirus may be causing, can call Frontier Health’s 24-hour crisis line at 877-928-9062, Tennessee’s 24-hour crisis line at 855-274-7471, or the federal mental health services help line at 1-800-985-5990.

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