COVID-19 closing some schools, but not in Oak Ridge

·3 min read

The increase in COVID-19 cases has forced officials to close several area school systems, but so far Oak Ridge Schools isn't one of them.

Officials with Anderson County Schools closed the schools Wednesday through Friday this week because of "staffing concerns related to illness," according to a post on the school system's Facebook page. In addition to the schools, the school system's central office for administrators was also closed Thursday and Friday.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey speaks to state lawmakers about coronavirus on Jan. 19, 2022.
Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey speaks to state lawmakers about coronavirus on Jan. 19, 2022.

In addition to Anderson County Schools, Knox County Schools were also closed Wednesday through Friday for pandemic-related illnesses. Knox News reported that Oneida Special School District and Scott County Schools were also closed Thursday. Knoxville Catholic High students were told they would finish the rest of this week with At-Home Learning due to staffing issues.

But Oak Ridge Schools remain open. On Wednesday afternoon, the school system's Case Count Dashboard showed active cases of COVID-19 among 49 students and eight employees.

"We are experiencing staff shortages due to COVID-19. We are hopeful that cases will soon peak so that we can return to a more normal staffing pattern," Holly Cross, supervisor of career readiness and communications for Oak Ridge Schools, stated in an emailed reply to the newspaper's questions.

Methodist Medical Center

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, as well as other Covenant Health hospitals in the area, are posting information on COVID-19 patients on a dashboard. The MMC dashboard is updated on its Facebook page Monday through Friday around noon.

The dashboard for Wednesday showed 28 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations at MMC, and two more cases are listed as "suspected" of being from the novel coronavirus.

Although the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital's intensive care unit is not given on the dashboard, it does state that all the ICU patients with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Across the hospital, in the ICU and other floors, 61% of the patients with COVID-19 were unvaccinated, according to the dashboard information.

One week ago, the dashboard showed 25 patients at the local hospital were confirmed to have COVID-19, and at least three more were suspected of having the coronavirus.

The median age of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients at MMC Wednesday was 73.5.

Tennessee Department of Health

Wednesday's weekly update from the Tennessee Department of Health shows 1,909 active cases in Anderson County and a total of 278 deaths since the pandemic began. The death total indicates eight residents have died of COVID-19 in the past week.

In Roane County, the number of active cases was listed at 1,301 active cases and 191 deaths. The death total is seven more than the previous week.

In Morgan County, there are 349 active cases and 63 deaths listed. This total indicates three people have died in the past week.

Across Tennessee, there were approximately 86 deaths from COVID-19 per day last week for a total of 21,694. The dashboard shows there were approximately 16,226 active cases per day for a total of 1.65 million. Hospitalizations across the state from the coronavirus totaled 2,938.

Omicron plateauing?

In a briefing with state legislators Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the omicron variant is plateauing in the state’s cities – a hopeful sign of the current surge may be nearing its peak – while the virus continues to spread rapidly in rural counties.

The Tennessee Department of Health's new virus data showed a decline of infections in Nashville and Memphis last week and slowing spread in the Chattanooga area. The virus continues to rise sharply in the Knoxville area.

The Tennessean reported Wednesday that Piercey said the virus was flattening and even declining in "essentially all" metropolitan areas. Less populated regions are expected to follow, she said.

Donna Smith can be contacted at (865) 220-5514 or by email at Follow her on Twitter @ridgernewsed.

This article originally appeared on Oakridger: COVID-19 closing some schools, but not in Oak Ridge

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