A Red Alert: Knox County sets COVID-19 benchmarks to worst since pandemic began

Coronavirus

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – For the first time, all five benchmarks that gauge Knox County’s ability to manage an increase in COVID-19 cases while preventing transmission growth are in the red.

The Knox County Health Department uses five benchmarks to assess the local ability to manage increases in COVID-19 cases while preventing, “unobstructed growth of transmission.”

Knox County reported its biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the first time more than 400 cases had been reported in a single day since the onset of the pandemic. Seven COVID-19-related deaths in Knox County were reported on Wednesday.

According to the Knox County COVID-19 dashboard, there are only eight available Intensive Care Unit beds available in 19 regional hospitals in 16 counties included in the benchmarks. Overall non-ICU beds are currently at a 93.3% utilization rate.

The five Knox County benchmarks

  1. Sustained reduction or stability in new cases for 14 days
  2. Community-wide sustained and increased diagnostic testing with consistent or decreased test result reporting turnaround time 
  3. Sustained or increased public health capability
  4. Health care system capabilities remain within current and forecasted surge capacity
  5. Sustained or decreased COVID-19 related death rate for identified positive or probable cases

To more visually represent how the benchmarks are being attained, a traffic light is being utilized to depict the status of each benchmark.

 Red signifies the trends are not moving towards benchmark attainment and may indicate adjustments need to be made.

 Yellow signifies the trends are moving towards/away from reaching benchmark attainment. Yellow indicates caution.

 Green signifies that the benchmark is currently met.

The Knox County Health Board will meet Wednesday night to discuss a possible new health regulation that if passed would limit gathering sizes to no more than ten people, unless the group is from the same household.

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