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East Tennessee COVID-19 hospitalizations accelerate

The region's hospitals report ICU beds are 85 percent full, but told health leaders that is within their capacity.

More patients with the coronavirus were admitted to East Tennessee hospitals in the past week than in the entire month of May as the virus transmission in the region accelerates, data from the state shows. 

From June 23 to 30, 45 people went to the hospital with the coronavirus in the east region of Tennessee, a department of health division which includes Knox and the 15 surrounding counties. In May, 26 patients went to the hospital. 

As of Tuesday, the Knox County Health Department reports 51 positive inpatients, 25 of which are in the ICU and 13 on ventilators. There were 63 additional inpatients awaiting tests, some of whom were in the ICU and on ventilators. 

In all, 85 percent of ICU beds in the region are filled. But hospital leaders told KCHD not to adjust its status benchmarks to red based on the 39 beds left. 

"After speaking with our hospital partners they stated their benchmarks should be represented as green because they are still well within their capacity," Charity Menefee with KCHD said. 

"We do want to note that hospital numbers continue to trend up. This is very important for people to understand," she added.

The increase in hospitalizations continues a trend of big cases increases across East Tennessee. 

Cases in Sevier County went up nearly 550 percent in June. In Hamblen, confirmed tests increased 400 percent. 

For comparison, Knox Co. cases increased 138 percent 

"This virus does not know borders or county bounds," Menefee said. 

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