Moore County reports 61 new COVID cases in past seven days

According to the state Hospital Capacity Dashboard, there are nine percent of available floor beds and eight percent of available ICU beds in the State of Tennessee as of January 3. (GRAPHIC PROVIDED)

LOCAL NEWS — While most Moore County folks frolics in the snow on Monday, the Tennessee State Health Department released its last daily case counts for our state and local numbers aren’t good. Moore County now reports 66 active COVID infections as of Monday.

The Times cross referenced the state’s number with both The New York Times COVID Tracker and COVID Act Now, and according to our counts, Monday’s new case total added 33 new, previously unreported COVID cases to Moore County’s 1,557 total case count.

Those are the highest rates reported since late summer when the delta variant first surged. They represent a 342 percent increase in new cases over the past 14 days. The surge comes on the heels of holiday gatherings and travel as the omicron variant spread nationwide. To view the Moore County Data Snapshot from the Tennessee Department of Health, click here. It’s important that to note that state’s numbers are reported per 100,000 resident and need to be adjusted to get actual Moore County numbers.

Monday will be last daily count from state officials

Despite the omicron surge, the Tennessee health officials say they no longer plan to provide daily cases counts to citizens and community leaders. Instead, they will release weekly data each Wednesday that will include counts from the previous Sunday through Saturday seven day period.

In a press conference, State Health Commission Dr. Lisa Piercey stated that the decision will enable the department to incorporate COVID-19 monitoring with the department’s pre-pandemic priorities, such as addressing drug overdose deaths. Piercey also said the number of reported virus cases are becoming less accurate due to an increase in at-home testing. She said no matter what the data shows, safety measures such as getting COVID-19 vaccinations, wearing masks and isolating when sick should continue.

Hospitalizations are the new key metric

Despite the change in daily reporting, national health officials say that hospitalization are a better key metric to determine the pandemic’s impact on local communities.

Moore County does not boast it’s own hospital or major medical center. Instead, we depend on Vanderbilt Tullahoma, Vanderbilt Bedford in Shelbyville, Southern Tennessee Regional in Winchester, and Lincoln Medical Center in Fayetteville to provide the bulk of our hospital care.

“A bed is a bed,” one regional hospital representative told us. “If beds fill up for COVID patients, then there are less available beds for heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, and other non-COVID related issues.

The state does provide numbers for total available hospital beds in the state and on Monday there were nine percent of floor beds, 8 percent of ICU beds, and 32 percent of COVID isolation rooms available throughout Tennessee. To view the Tennessee Hospital Capacity Dashboard, click here.

Moore County reports lowest vaccination rate in the state

As of Monday, Moore County continues to report the lowest vaccination rate in the state at just 24 percent. This means omicron is more likely to spread quickly here and those who do experience a positive test will be more likely to require hospitalization. Complicating the matter is the fact that vaccinated individuals can contract omicron but often don’t show symptoms, meaning that they can spread the virus unknowingly.

National, state, and local health officials all agree that getting a vaccination or a booster is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved one from COVID. Though vaccinated individuals can still get the virus and pass it on to others, their rate of severe illness and hospitalization is far lower than the unvaccinated.

You can track available vaccine and booster availability at •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only daily newspaper in Lynchburg. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}