One of Walgreens’ mobile vaccination units rolled onto the campus of LeMoyne-Owen College (Sept. 9). Walgreens is bringing the units to HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) “to vaccinate communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Tennessee made it to the top of a list no state wants to top, totaling more new cases per capita as the coronavirus – particularly its Delta strain – maintains its life-altering grip.

As of Tuesday, one in every 81 Tennesseans had tested positive for the virus in the past week, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. Meanwhile, the average number of new cases daily has risen by nearly 90 percent since Aug. 29, to nearly 12,000 new cases a day as of Sunday.

That sobering information followed on the heels of Mayor Jim Strickland having used his Twitter account last Friday (Sept. 10) to share that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. The tweet read:

“After experiencing mild congestion, I tested positive for COVID, but otherwise, feeling well. I’m thankful for being vaccinated.”

According to the Shelby County Health Department, Shelby County averaged 611 new COVID-19 cases per day for the past week. On Wednesday, new cases reported totaled 387, with four deaths. The active case count was listed as 7,083. Of that amount, children totaled 2,476 cases.

In Shelby County, 136,212 total cases have been reported, including 1,936 deaths.

“The seven-day rolling average is on a downward trend,” said Shelby County Health Department Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph. “It is staying a little more than 600, so that is good news. But we are waiting on the numbers to come in from the Labor Day Weekend, up to 14 days after a holiday. If our downward trend continues, that would be great. We’re in a wait-and-see mode.”

State-wide statistics show that the coronavirus has killed 14,010, or one out of every 500. At the present rate of death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict the state’s death toll will exceed 15,000 “in the next three or four weeks.”

Hospital beds in Shelby County remain close to 100 percent capacity because of the virus. Acute care beds are 95 percent filled, and ICU beds are 97 percent filled with critical COVID-19 patients.

About 51 percent of Tennesseans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the past week, the number of shots given has decreased to about 8,100 a day, receiving their first shot. For most of August and September, over 10,000 Tennesseans were getting vaccinated each day.

“Our message has not changed,” said Randolph. “The best defense against coronavirus and the surging Delta strain is to get vaccinated. About 95 percent of those getting seriously ill from the virus have not been vaccinated.

“Those who have been vaccinated should continue wearing their masks as an extra safety precaution. Everyone should continue avoiding crowds and indoor spaces that are not well ventilated.”

Randolph said everyone should be tested regularly for COVID-19.

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, flu shots and COVID-19 tests were available during the Walgreens mobile vaccination unit stop at LeMoyne-Owen College. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

(For more information on vaccinations or testing, call the health department at 901-222-9000, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)