KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As of Wednesday, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 837 people in Knox County since the pandemic started. The Knox County Health Department also announced Wednesday two more people had died from COVID. Meanwhile, the number of active cases has dropped to below 3,100.

The KCHD’s Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease and Emergency Preparedness explained how active cases could be trending downward as deaths are still climbing.

“Our numbers started creeping up in July and in August,” said Roberta Sturm. Sturm said they expected a jump in active cases around that time of year considering the start of a new school year.

“We have had a peak, I believe it was on September 7th, of about 933 cases, confirmed cases, and you know since then our numbers have been decreasing,” she explained.

She also talked about why deaths lag so far behind active case numbers. “When people become cases, it takes a while for them to become sick and to retrieve care, care that can last a very long time,” Sturm began. “If they do die from this illness it usually happens quite a bit after they were diagnosed with COVID.”

Sturm said we’ll be in this fight for a while. She was adamant that the best line of defense is the vaccine. She also said people need to prepare as we head toward the holidays.

“More families are going to get together and if you’ve got vulnerable individuals in your family, people that have compromised immune systems, right now is the best time for you to get vaccinated,” she said. “So you can go ahead and protect your family and protect your loved ones.” She also said another surge after the holidays is not out of the question.

Sturm encouraged everyone who’s eligible to get the vaccine. KCHD officials also want people who are eligible to get the Pfizer booster shot.