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For the first time since April, Tennessee's COVID-19 numbers are headed higher

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the rise again across Tennessee after falling steadily since late April.

By July 4, hospitalizations statewide had fallen to 195 patients, but their number has risen 28 percent in the eight days since. As of Monday morning, there are 250 Tennesseans being treated in hospitals for virus related complications. Eighty-four are currently in intensive care units statewide, up from 59 in late June. A total of 46 are on a respirator, up from 35 on July 3.

The number of new COVID-19 infections is also on the rise. The case counts are still small, but the running average of infections is currently 351 new cases every 24 hours. That represents a 107 percent increase over a two week period.

Tennessee has one of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the nation. Currently, just 38 percent of the state’s residents are fully immunized against the virus. That means roughly 4.2 million Tennesseans are not yet protected against COVID-19. 

The CDC reports Tennessee also has one of the country’s highest vaccination hesitancy rates. Williamson County currently has the state’s lowest estimated hesitancy rate at 8.6 percent of residents. Fourteen counties in Middle and East Tennessee are tied for the worst vaccine hesitancy rate at 15.2 percent of residents.

The number of Tennesseans who have contracted the Delta variant, which is causing serious case and hospitalization spikes in neighboring Arkansas and Missouri, jumped from 27 cases reported June 25, to 125 cases as of June  9. The actual number of Delta related cases is likely much higher than reported. Tennessee is conducting relatively few tests to determine exactly which strain of COVID-19 a patient has.

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