As COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. edge toward the half-million mark, more signs of recovery from the virus in Northeast Tennessee were indicated in statistics from the state Department of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that virus-related deaths stood at 496,112 nationally on Sunday, an additional 2,104 deaths since Saturday.

Greene County had 24 new cases of COVID-19 reported over the weekend — 18 on Saturday and six on Sunday — according to the Tennessee Department of Health. One additional virus-related death in the county was reported on Saturday.

Greene County now has had 7,244 cases of COVID-19 and 143 virus-related deaths reported since the state Department of Health began compiling statistics on March 1, 2020.

Inactive and recovered case totals continue to trend up in Greene County, with an additional 20 inactive/recovered COVID-19 cases reported Sunday. The number for Saturday and Sunday was 36 cases, for a total of 6,986 inactive and recovered virus cases in Greene County.

The state defines an inactive case as a person who has passed the 14-day point beyond a positive test or onset of symptoms without being hospitalized at the time.

In Tennessee, the Department of Health listed a total of 765,137 cases of the virus on Sunday, an increase of 1,129 cases from Saturday.

Tennessee’s death total from the virus Sunday stood at 11,133, or 18 additional deaths since Saturday.

Out of nine Northeast Tennessee counties with new virus cases, Sullivan County had the most new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday with 19. Washington County had 17 new cases, Hawkins 15 and Hamblen seven. Carter and Cocke each had five new virus cases, Uncoi three and Hancock none.

Active cases of the virus decreased or remained the same in every Northeast Tennessee county between Saturday and Sunday. Greene County led the way with a decrease of 14 active cases.

There had been a total of 14,544 COVID-19 vaccinations in Greene County as of Saturday. The percentage of Greene County residents who received one or more doses of a virus vaccine was 13.27%, according to the state.

Age groups receiving one or more COVID-19 vaccinations were led by the 71-80 group, which had received 234,629 vaccinations as of Saturday, or 31.8 percent of the total; the 81 and above age group, which got 122,347 vaccinations, or 16.6 percent; and the 61-70 age group, which received 101,167 vaccinations, or 13.7 percent of the total.

CONTRAST IN NUMBERS

Comparing numbers released Friday for the Ballad Health system with figures from one month earlier on Jan. 19 show the slow of the spread of COVID-19 in the health care system’s 21-county service area that includes Greene County, but also illustrates the toll taken by the coronavirus in the past month.

Ballad Health’s scorecard reported that on Friday, that there were 78 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals, with 19 people in intensive care units and 13 on ventilators. The health care system reported no new hospitalizations on Friday, the most recent day available.

The Ballad Health figure for Jan. 19 was 230 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, 57 in intensive care units and 33 on ventilators, along with 25 new hospitalizations.

A total of 86,080 virus cases had been confirmed since March 1 of last year by Ballad Health as of Friday. Between Jan. 19 and Feb. 19, the health care system confirmed 9,029 additional COVID-19 cases. Virus-related deaths in the Ballad Health system in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia stood at 1,781 on Friday, compared to 1,371 on Jan. 19, an additional 410 deaths.

As of Friday, 29,306 people had received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Ballad Health facilities, compared to 21,665 on Jan. 19. A second dose of vaccine had been administered to 25,017 people as of Friday, compared to 9,272 people having received a second dose on Jan. 19.

The positive test rate for the region for the seven days ending Friday stood at 14.2%, according to Ballad Health’s COVID-19 scorecard. The positive test rate figure for the seven days ending on Jan. 19 was 25.4%.

For Greene County, the positive test rate was 5.7% for the seven days ending Friday, according to data from the state. The statewide average positive test rate was about 8.1% on Sunday, compared to about 9.2% percent on Saturday and about 10.4% on Friday.

VACCINE ELIGIBILITY

Beginning Monday, individuals 65 to 69 years of age in Greene County can begin registering for appointments to receive a first dose of the vaccine.

Those previously eligible for vaccinations in Greene County included individuals 70 and older, frontline health care professionals at hospitals, health care staff in offices or other settings, and K-12 education and childcare providers.

One vaccination site is operated by the county Health Department on the former Greene Valley Developmental Center campus on East Andrew Johnson Highway. Appointments are required to receive the vaccine at the site, according to the state.

Appointments for the Greene Valley vaccination site can be made online at covid19.tn.gov or by calling 866-442-5301.

Inoculations are also available at four independent local pharmacies designated as community vaccination sites by the state: Atchley’s Drug Center, Corley’s Pharmacy, Corley’s Pharmacy Solutions and Greene County Drug Store.

Each has been provided limited supplies by the state. Information is available on the pharmacies’ websites and social media sites regarding current availability.

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.

COVID-19 tests are administered by the Greene County Health Department from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at the Health Department office, 810 W. Church St. No appointment is necessary.

COVID-19 testing is also available from CVS and Ballad Health.

Free self-swab tests are available at CVS Pharmacy locations on the Asheville Highway and East Andrew Johnson Highway for those who meet CDC qualifications. An appointment is required and can be made at CVS.com.

Anyone concerned they may have the virus can call the Ballad Health system’s Nurse Connect line at 833-822-5523 to be scheduled for testing at the individual’s nearest testing site. Tests may also be scheduled using the Ballad Health app or on its website. Testing is offered at Greeneville Community Hospital West, 401 Takoma Ave.

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