Wilson County and Tennessee Department of Health officials remain optimistic, but cautious, about COVID-19 in the county and state as the Delta variant continues to spread.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said county government leaders continue to cooperate with the Wilson County Health Department on updates and guidance about the pandemic.
“Over the last month, I’ve had as high as 34 cases in one day, and I’ve had days where I’ve had zero. It’s been up and down,” Hutto said. “The 34-day was the only one we had in the 30s, the rest have really been single digits to teens.”
Hutto said his office monitors local and state COVID-19 figures and observes public actions as cases steadily increase. He said that there have been no discussions about reinstating a county-wide mask mandate, primarily because there has been no guidance or communication about it from the governor’s office.
“I feel like that people are definitely aware going into this and know the precautions to take to keep themselves safe because we’ve been dealing with it for quite some time now,” Hutto said.
No Delta variant case has been officially identified in Wilson County, although it has been identified in Davidson County.
Wilson County’s case count climbed to 19,704 cases through Monday. The latest figures included 254 deaths and 216 active cases.
As of July 25, Wilson County averaged 17.8 new cases reported per day over 14 days from July 12 through July 25. The average for the previous 14 days was 6.4 cases per day.
The county averaged about 156 tests per day for the week ending July 26, which yielded a 12.1-percent positivity rate.
About 40 percent of Wilson County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 38 percent have received two doses.
The county’s vaccination count is about 112,107 as of July 25.
Hutto said the county has experienced five additional deaths in the last month due to COVID-19.
“I think the future is just really uncertain with this as it was as we navigated the last part of the pandemic,” Hutto said. “We really don’t know what to expect moving forward. We all have been educated as we lived through it and feel like most people know what to do to be safe and take care of themselves.”
Wilson County’s recent increase in cases mirrors most areas in the state, as well as the nation, according to State Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey.
“Tennessee is seeing a surge, just like, essentially, ever other state in the nation is,” said Piercey, who noted the state has experienced a 200% increase in COVID-19 cases since July 1.
She also said the state has averaged more than 700 cases a day over the last week, which remains lower than the peak of the pandemic last winter.
“To put that in perspective, that is about where we were in early May,” she said. “We’re not anywhere close, at this point, to where we were in November, December or January, but it is a noticeable uptick and doesn’t currently show any signs of slowing.”
Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt University Professor of Infectious Diseases, said the Delta, along with Beta and Gamma, are variants that have been identified as variants of concern in the United States.
The distinction means they are being closely monitored due to evidence they have increased transmissibility and increased disease severity.
Schaffner said certain areas, mainly rural areas and large portions of the Southeast, could be greatly impacted by the Delta variant.
“The people we’re seeing in the hospital now are not the old folks. Those are the folks we saw in the beginning, but we’ve largely vaccinated that population,” he said. “Now, we’re seeing people in their 40s, 30s and 20s, .”
Piercey noted the state has experienced an increase in hospitalizations, but not yet in deaths, which she expects could come soon based on the number of increased cases.
The Wilson County Health Department will conduct testing from 8:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Testing conducted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are done via self-administered health kits from 8:30 a.m. -10:30am. The kits can be used by adults with a valid email address and smart device.
For information, call the Wilson County Health Department at (615) 444-5325.