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KINGSPORT – Santa Claus is coming to town – behind the wheel of a fire truck?

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases spike over 500

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health’s daily report, for Wednesday, Dec. 23:


• 111 deaths and 7,221 new cases.

• Pandemic totals are 6,380 deaths and 541,240 cases.

• 84% of case totals were listed as “inactive/recovered.”

• Deaths by age: 49 in the 81-plus group; 29 in the 71-80 group; 25 in the 61-70 group; eight in the 51-60 group; and one in the 21-30 group. The state adjusted deaths down by one in the 11-20 group (from four on Tuesday to three Wednesday).

Northeast Tennessee

• Four new deaths and 526 new cases for the eight-county region.

New deaths by county: two in Washington (total 153); two in Sullivan (total 166).

No new deaths were reported in Johnson County (total 27); Hancock County (total four); Greene County (total 88); Hawkins (total 52); Carter (total 79); Unicoi (total 38).

New cases by county: 154 in Washington; 60 in Greene; 72 in Carter; 163 in Sullivan; 41 in Hawkins; 19 in Unicoi; 14 in Johnson; and three in Hancock.

Active cases by county: 1,456 in Wash- ington; 1,429 in Sullivan; 992 in Greene; 611 in Hawkins; 587 in Carter; 202 in Unicoi; 119 in Johnson; and 44 in Hancock.

Positive rates

Statewide: 17.53% of the 16,026 new test results reported Wednesday by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Ballad Health: 23.7% over the past seven days, for the health system’s 21-county service area, including Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases top 50 with one death

Far Southwest Virginia reported one additional death and more than 50 new cases of COVID-19, according to Wednesday’s state data report.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) said the LENOWISCO Health District tallied 56 cases and one death for totals of 4,372 and 111 deaths during the pandemic.

Wise County saw 34 cases for totals of 1,790 and 53 deaths. Lee County had 11 cases for 1,315 and 28 deaths.

Scott County had eight cases and one death for 1,126 and 29 deaths. Norton added three cases for 141 cases and one death.

The VDH reported 4,652 new cases and 55 deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 319,133 cases and 4,760 deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Wednesday’s VDH report was 4,776,275 of 8.63 million residents, or 55.35%. For nasal swab testing only, 4,029,903 people have been tested to date, or 46.7%. In the LENOWISCO district, 30,260 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 34.99%.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Wednesday’s report dropped from 23% to 21.6%. The statewide positivity rate climbed from 11.4% to 11.6%.

Red Onion State Prison had 24 inmate cases and added three cases for nine active staff/contractor cases Wednesday, accord- ing to the Virginia Depart- ment of Corrections.

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at one inmate case and added one case for five active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center remained at 24 inmate cases and two active staff/contractor cases.

According to Wednesday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, daily case incidence in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — was ranked as fluctuating after an eight-day drop in daily case rates. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results was classed as decreasing based on a 17-day decrease in that measure.

All four school systems in the LENOWISCO district were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district. For seven-day case incidence, Norton City Schools were ranked highest risk, Lee and Wise county schools higher risk and Scott County Schools moderate risk.

Where to be tested

Do you think you might have COVID-19? Local health departments provide free testing.

The LENOWISCO Health Department, which covers Norton and Lee, Wise and Scott counties, posts regular updates on testing sites across the district and offers free COVID-19 tests at its county offices. Those seeking a test must call in advance for an appointment. Contact numbers for the county offices are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000

Additional testing and COVID-19 precaution information can be found at the LENOWISCO Health District’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Lenowisco.

The Health Wagon will partner with the Virginia Department of Health to offer 17 sessions of free drive-thru testing at Food City in St. Paul through Dec. 31. Call (276) 328-8850 for an appointment.

In Southwest Virginia, online resources are available to help evaluate whether residents might be infected and where to get a COVID-19 test. The Virginia Department of Health’s COVIDCHECK (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/) can walk a user through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.

Today's combined edition

In order to allow our employees and carriers to spend the Christmas holiday with family and friends, today’s edition of the Kingsport Times News is a combined Christmas Eve/Christmas Day edition.

Your regular comics and games pages for Friday are included in today’s issue.

Our website, timesnews.net, will be available on Christmas Day, and normal publication of the paper will resume on Dec. 26.

We wish all of our readers and advertisers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington.