Northeast Tennessee accounted for eight more COVID-19 deaths and 89 new cases as reported by the state on Friday. However, the eight-county region’s death toll increased by only seven net from 282 to 289, because Carter County’s total deaths decreased by one compared to numbers released a day earlier.
That shift is a reminder that daily reports from the state on new cases, total cases, and deaths are all inclusive of confirmed and probable COVID-19 infections.
The eight deaths reported on Friday in Northeast Tennessee: three in Washington County; three in Unicoi County; and one each in Johnson County and Greene County.
The 89 new cases by county: 44 in Sullivan; 14 in Washington; 13 in Greene; seven in Hawkins; three each in Carter, Unicoi and Johnson; and two in Hancock.
Statewide, 32 new deaths and 1,373 new cases brought Tennessee’s pandemic totals to 3,541 deaths (3,324 confirmed as COVID-19 and 217 probable) and 273,144 cases (256,845 confirmed as COVID-19 and 16,299 probable). By far the majority of cases, 246,392, were listed as “inactive/recovered.”
The new case numbers were based on 11,027 new test results statewide, compared to the day before, with a positive rate of 11.41%.
The 32 new deaths reported statewide, by age group: 15 in the 71-80 group; eight in the 81-plus group; six in the 51-60 group; and three in the 61-70 group.
Northeast Tennessee’s total deaths, by county, as of Friday: 75 in Washington; 61 in Sullivan; 59 in Greene; 37 in Carter; 30 in Hawkins; 14 in Johnson; 10 in Unicoi; and three in Hancock.
Northeast Tennessee’s 16,045 cases, by county, as of Friday: 4,409 in Sullivan; 4,282 in Washington; 2,156 in Greene; 1,892 in Carter; 1,379 in Hawkins; 1,255 in Johnson; 544 in Unicoi; and 128 in Hancock.
Source: Tennessee Department of Health, daily COVID-19 report, Nov. 6, 2020.
KINGSPORT — The oldest fire station in the city is definitely showing its age.
Built in 1942, Fire Station No. 2 (located on Crescent Drive) has a number of limitations, from the small size of the truck bays, to a lack of separate quarters for men and women, to issues deal- ing with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Times have changed when it comes to the firefighting industry, and the building just isn’t what it needs to be.
That’s why city and fire officials are exploring what to do with the facility.
Options currently on the table include renovating it to meet the needs of the Kingsport Fire Depart- ment, demolishing it and building a state-of-the-art facility, and leaving the structure intact and constructing a new station in the same general area of town.
The three options were discussed at a recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session.
FIRE FACILITIES PLAN
The issue regarding the physical condition of Fire Station No. 2 came out of a Fire Facilities Plan conducted in 2016. The capital improvement plan for the KFD outlines and prioritizes projects and purchases over a 10-year period.
Overall, it’s a $4.4 million plan that to date has accomplished a number of things: repairing the heaving balcony at Fire Station No. 2, repairing roofs at three stations, installing emergency telephone lines at all stations and purchasing much-needed cardiac monitors.
Now city and fire officials are looking at next year’s priorities. Atop the list is Fire Station No. 2. Other items include building classroom space at the KFD’s training grounds off Wilcox Drive and taking a harder look at Fire Station No. 4, which was built in 1965 and is starting to show its age, said Chief Scott Boyd.
THE FUTURE OF STATION 2
When fire trucks are inside a station and running, there’s a hose that attaches to the vehicle and lets the exhaust blow out of the building. At Fire Station No. 2, 100% of that exhaust is not being captured. Plus, the firefighters sleep directly above the bays.
Boyd said this is just one of the issues with that building. There are ADA problems, a lack of female quarters, and half of the vehicles — including a ladder truck — won’t fit inside the station.
According to information provided to the BMA, the estimated cost to renovate Fire Station No. 2 is $880,000. The cost to build a new station has not been determined, but for reference, Kingsport spent $1.7 million on the Rock Springs station in 2010 and $2.5 million on the New Beason Well Road station in 2012.
Another thing city and fire officials are keeping in mind when considering the future of Fire Station No. 2 is the historical aspect of the building.
“It’s an older building and is ingrained in the fabric of the neighborhood. People have grown up with that station,” Boyd said. “For a lot of folks, that’s where they went for tours and public education. It’s right in the middle of the Fourth of July parade and Fun Fest. It’s part of that community.”
City Manager Chris McCartt said the next step in the process is to determine whether Kingsport should renovate, rebuild or build new on a different site. More information will be provided to the city and the BMA in the coming months, and a decision will likely be made next spring, McCartt said.
Far Southwest Virginia saw 41 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths, according to Friday’s state health data, as Lee County Schools added another case.
The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) reported that the state had 1,366 new cases and 11 additional deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 187,202 cases and 3,682 deaths. The death toll was adjusted down by two in Friday’s VDH report.
The LENOWISCO Health District added 41 cases and two deaths for totals of 1,974 and 29 deaths during the pandemic. Wise County saw 20 cases and one death for totals of 787 and 11 deaths. Scott County had 13 cases for 512 and seven deaths.
Lee County saw six cases and one death for 616 and 11 deaths, while Norton’s case total increased by two for 59 and no deaths.
The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Friday’s VDH report was 2,960,868 of 8.63 million residents, or 34.31%. For nasal swab testing only, 2,743,229 people have been tested to date, or 31.79%. In the LENOWISCO district, 20,521 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 23.73%.
Pandemic-wide testing rates by locality were:
• Lee County, 6,363 of 23,423, or 27.17%
• Norton, 2,003 of 3,981, or 50.31%
• Wise County, 7,657 of 37,383, or 20.48%
• Scott County, 4,462 of 21,566, or 20.69%
Red Onion State Prison remained at 20 inmate cases and dropped to no active staff/contractor cases, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19.
Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at no inmate cases, but added two cases for four active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 16 inmate cases and decreased from five to two active staff cases.
Lee County Schools officials, in a letter to parents Friday, reported one student or staff case at Thomas Walker High School, with the infected person last on campus Oct. 29. Schools are remaining open as education and health district officials conduct contact tracing.
One new educational setting outbreak was reported in the LENOWISCO Health District Friday for six such outbreaks and 31 total outbreaks during the pandemic.
In the VDH’s weekly Friday school outbreak report, two outbreaks were reported as closed: Union Middle School in Wise County with an unspecified number of cases, and St. Charles Elementary School in Lee County, also with an unspecified number of cases. An outbreak is in progress at Gate City Middle School in Scott County with an unspecified number of cases. Outbreaks are pending closure at Lee High School in Lee County with 10 cases and Union Primary School in Wise County with an unspecified number of cases.
The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Friday’s report dropped from 15.5% to 14.7%. The statewide positivity rate increased from 5.8% to 5.9%.
According to Thursday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, cases in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — were ranked as rising after a 46-day increase in cases. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results remained increasing based on a 26-day increase in that measure.
All four school systems in the LENOWISCO district — Wise, Lee and Scott counties and Norton — were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district. Norton City Schools was ranked highest-risk for percent change in seven-day case incidences. Wise County Schools and Lee County Schools were ranked higher-risk and Scott County Schools lowest-risk.
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.