Knoxville area hospitals under 'unprecedented strain' from omicron

·2 min read

Hello and welcome to Coronavirus Watch. This is Kelli Krebs with your look at COVID-19 in Knox County and around Tennessee.

The omicron variant is continuing to flood hospitals and shatter records in Knox County.

Hospitals in the Knoxville region are under "unprecedented strain," administrators said in a joint statement Wednesday. Between omicron, seasonal illnesses, post-COVID patients and normal health emergencies, the system is overwhelmed.

COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths and case counts all shattered records in the past week. According to newest data, the omicron surge isn't plateauing anytime soon.

If the omicron variant continues to spread across the state, some Tennessee hospitals may soon turn to a strategy that once felt unthinkable: letting infected employees stay on the job.

The strategy was recommended as a "last resort" by the CDC, and has been recently employed by some hospitals in California and Rhode Island.

Multiple Tennessee hospitals have considered allowing infected but asymptomatic employees to continue working, said Andrea Turner, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Hospital Association. Turner said she wasn't aware of any having actually done so.

COVID-19 in Knox County by the numbers:

The Knox County Health Department updates COVID-19 statistics every Wednesday with data for the previous calendar week. The numbers below reflect cases reported the week ending Jan. 22.

  • Number of vaccinations reported among Knox County residents: 683,693

  • Percent of Knox County residents with at least one dose: 62.67%

  • People who have died: 1,130 (1,091 Jan. 22) *

  • Active cases: 14,630 (12,118)

  • New cases reported by day: 1,290 (1,066)

  • Seven-day average: 944 (806)

  • Total cases detected: 108,856 (100,398)

Source: Knox County Health Department, Jan. 26

*Note: The Jan. 22 reporting period had 39 additional deaths. However, 10 of those deaths are from previous months. This comes as a result of a review announced last month from the Tennessee Department of Health, which has identified additional COVID-related deaths. The remaining 29 deaths occurred in January 2022.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville region hospitals under 'unprecedented strain' from omicron