Rutherford County briefly passes 10,000 active COVID-19 cases in January
Rutherford County passed the 10,000 COVID-19 cases mark at the end of January, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s data.
On Jan. 22, the county had 10,183 cases, reaching five figures for the first time since the state has been collecting virus data. This active case count was nearly six times higher than the 1,682 cases recorded almost one month previously on Christmas Day.
For the same date last year, only 807 active cases were recorded, a difference of 9,376.
As of Jan. 29, Rutherford County’s active case count dropped to 8,856, making up approximately 2.55% of the county’s population.
The rise in case counts was one of the topics Rutherford County Health Department Director LaShan Dixon touched on in her update at the county’s January Health and Education Committee Meeting.
“For Rutherford County, it seems as if the transmission rate, of course with COVID-19 and total cases, is at its highest point since the pandemic has actually started,” said Dixon. “The hospitalizations do seem to be declining but deaths appear to be staying at about the same level.”
In the seven days leading up to Jan. 29, the county recorded a 41.4% positivity rate with 193 daily cases per 100,000 residents.
Dr. Lori Macdonald, the county’s medical examiner, said the Omicron variant’s more mild symptoms could be the reason why transmission is so high. She said the majority of the cases seen in local ICU units are coming from the unvaccinated population.
“People don’t really think they have anything other than maybe a seasonal cold, and then they get tested and they’re often shocked, and they tend not to be unwell,” said MacDonald, who recommends booster shots to lessen the effects of COVID symptoms if infected.
“As things peak, I see the deaths go down, and then I see them start to rise again as people are either getting well or not getting well,” said Macdonald.
Over 50% of county residents have been fully vaccinated, however, that number has seen little movement in the last couple of weeks, rising from 50.29% to 50.75%.
By the state’s definition, individuals who have received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine injections or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson variety have been fully vaccinated.
Nearly 56% of residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Rutherford County Health Department is shifting vaccines back to its main site at 100 West Burton St. from Monday-Friday, 1:30-3 p.m. The goal is to continue using the former State Farm building on 2500 Memorial for drive-thru virus testing.
Dixon said the county would be offering take-home rapid tests instead of the Everlywell self-testing kits that had previously been offered.
Numbers from the schools
After a few consecutive weeks of rising case counts, both city and county schools are seeing a dip in the number of students and staff impacted by the virus. Murfreesboro City Schools started off January with 70 combined cases, which then rose to 393 and 486 in the subsequent weeks.
The case counts fell to 250 for the week ending on Jan. 25.
Twelve of MCS’ 13 schools have recorded double-digit cases.
In Rutherford County Schools, a spike was seen from the first week back from winter break, when there were 168 student cases recorded to 1,084, according to the week ending on Jan. 28, making up approximately 2.21% of the 49,039 enrollment.
This most recent number of cases is a 22% decline from the 1,391 cases recorded the week prior.
The majority of cases at this time are being seen in RCS’ elementary schools, in which 39% of the caseload is made up, according to a chart posted on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. Elementary schools are followed by middle schools at 36% and high schools at 25%.