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KINGSPORT — Instead of a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, Santa Claus flew into the Model City via helicopter Tuesday afternoon to spread some …

25 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health’s daily report, for Tuesday, Dec. 22:


• 135 new deaths (133 net) and 4,441 new cases.

• Pandemic totals are 6,269 deaths and 534,019 cases.

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

• New deaths by age: 56 in the 81-plus group; 49 in the 71-80 group; 18 in the 61-70 group; seven in the 51-60 group; two in the 41-50 group; one in the 31-40 group; and two in the 21-30 group. The state adjusted deaths down by one each in the: 11-20 group (from five on Monday to four on Tuesday); pending group (from two on Monday to one on Tuesday).

Northeast Tennessee

• 25 new deaths and 260 new cases for the eight-county region.

New deaths by county: seven in Washington (total 151); six in Greene (total 88); four in Hawkins (total 52); three in Sullivan (total 164); three in Carter (total 79); and two in Unicoi (total 38).

No new deaths were reported in Johnson County (total 27) or Hancock County (total four).

New cases by county: 79 in Washington; 56 in Greene; 42 in Carter; 35 in Sullivan; 30 in Hawkins; 14 in Unicoi; two in Johnson; and two in Hancock.

Active cases by county: 1,464 in Washington; 1,429 in Sullivan; 1,008 in Greene; 640 in Hawkins; 585 in Carter; 203 in Unicoi; 118 in Johnson; and 44 in Hancock.

Positive rates

Statewide: 19.63% of the 16,026 new test results reported Tuesday by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Ballad Health: 22.9% 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 under 50, but five deaths

Far Southwest Virginia’s daily COVID-19 case number dropped below 50, but the region saw five deaths, according to Tuesday’s state data report.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) said the LENOWISCO Health District reported 48 cases and five deaths for totals of 4,316 and 110 deaths during the pandemic.

Wise County saw 22 cases for totals of 1,756 and 53 deaths. Lee County had 11 cases and two deaths for 1,304 and 28 deaths.

Scott County had 11 cases and two deaths for 1,118 and 28 deaths. Norton added four cases and its first death during the pandemic for 138 cases and one death.

The VDH reported 3,591 new cases and 51 deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 314,481 cases and 4,705 deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Tuesday’s VDH report was 4,719,962 of 8.63 million residents, or 54.69%. For nasal swab testing only, 3,993,2342 people have been tested to date, or 46.27%. In the LENOWISCO district, 30,045 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 34.75%.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Tuesday’s report dropped from 23.3% to 23%. The statewide positivity rate remained at 11.4%.

Red Onion State Prison had 24 inmate cases and six active staff/contractor cases Tuesday, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at one inmate case and had four active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 24 inmate cases and had two active staff/contractor cases.

According to Tuesday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, daily case incidence in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — were ranked as fluctuating after a seven-day drop in daily case rates. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results was classified as decreasing based on a 16-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, Wise and Scott counties and Norton city schools were ranked highest-risk and Lee County Schools at higher-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 users through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.

Salvation Army needs community's help to meet goal

KINGSPORT — The Salvation Army in Kingsport is counting on the community it has served for 90 years to come through down the stretch and rescue the 2020 Red Kettle campaign.

Kingsport needs to raise $15,000 by Thursday to meet its $120,000 goal for the year. Christmas Eve is the final day of bell ringing in the campaign. In the Tri-Cities, as of Saturday, only Johnson City had reached its goal. Bristol reported it would need to collect $39,000 this week to meet its $100,000 goal.

“We are really counting on our communities to help us finish these last few days of the Christmas season strong so we will have the funds we need to meet the needs of the most vulnerable through the rest of the year,” Kingsport’s Major Joseph May said.

Funds collected through the Red Kettles are used to purchase food, toys and clothing for The Salvation Army Christmas program. After Christmas expenses are met, collections are used to fund community programs throughout the year, including a daily meal program, the emergency shelter, grocery orders, rent and utility assistance and youth character-building programs.

“People have been very generous this year,” May said. “Our challenge has been having enough people to cover our locations.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, The Salvation Army struggled to find enough manpower (volunteer or paid) to cover its usual kettle sites. Many locations also saw less foot traffic than previous years.

All three Tri-Cities units have completed their distribution of Angel Tree items, which means 2,753 children in the area will have gifts to open Christmas morning. All told, 4,532 people will receive either food, toys, clothing or gifts from The Salvation Army in the Tri-Cities this year.

Though it’s most visible at Christmastime, due to the iconic Red Kettles, The Salvation Army’s mission is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination” 365 days a year.

You can donate at any Red Kettle through Christmas Eve or donate online at giveredkettle.org. Donations made online are designated to the unit serving the donor’s zip code. To specify a unit other than the one where you live, simply follow the instructions at the bottom of the donation page.

ETSU's Damari Monsanto scores over Alabama's Joshua Primo during Tuesday night's game in Tuscaloosa, Ala.