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Knox County Health Department: 'Very, very low' risk of dying from COVID-19 in East Tennessee

Are you more likely to die from coronavirus or get struck by lightning?

Every day we assume risk in our lives, and lots of readers continue to point that out

Your odds of dying of cancer are one in seven.

Your odds of dying of heart disease are one in six.

Death by lightning strike? One in 180,746.

So what are your chances of dying from coronavirus? An infectious disease specialist at Stanford University claims it could be as high as 1% -- a number many say needs to be taken with a grain of salt. 

"You have a one in 100 chance of not surviving that infection," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado. "Now of course that risk is higher if you're in a high risk group, but do you really want to expose yourself to a 1 percent chance of dying from this virus?"

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According to the National Safety Council, those are about the same odds of dying in a car crash (one in 106) or from an opioid overdose (one in 98).

But according to the Knox County Health Department, one in 100 odds of dying of COVID-19 is way too big.

"The likelihood of somebody dying of COVID-19 is very, very low," said Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department. "The likelihood of them even going to the hospital for COVID-19 is very, very low."

Part of why it's hard to calculate overall odds of dying of COVID-19 is because there are so many factors that play in, like age, where you live, and underlying conditions.

You have to catch the virus before you can die from it.        

It's contagious, but so is the flu.

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"We always have to remember that we have a flu vaccine," said Dr. James Shamiyeh, Chief Quality Officer for UT Medical Center. "What we don't want is to have a bad flu season and a COVID-19 resurgence at the same time."

The most recent CDC data shows that 1,656 Tennesseans died from the flu in 2017.

As of May 8, 241 Tennesseans died of the coronavirus this year.

The coronavirus also hasn't been around as long as flu season, and that doesn't mean you shouldn't take it seriously.

"It's really not a fair comparison,' said Buchanan. "Our COVID-19 deaths are only five at this time [in Knox County], so it's really, there's no way to compare it to anything else."

Knox County coronavirus numbers are updated here every morning.

State coronavirus numbers are updated here every afternoon.

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