Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver has theorized that a trend in the county’s COVID-19 cases may actually be due to a lag in information coming in from the state. McCarver said that over the last four weeks, he had noticed a sharp decline in Cheatham County’s recovered rates dropping from the 50% range to near 40%. Local health department personnel informed the mayor the daily task of tracing local COVID-19 cases was transferred over six weeks ago to a regional phone bank which handled eight counties, including Cheatham. That phone bank had the task of gathering and following up on positive case numbers, including the recovered total, McCarver said.
The mayor then compared Cheatham’s numbers to those of neighboring Metro-Davidson County, which has its own health board doing the tracking of active and recovered cases.
“It’s been taking three to four weeks for active cases in Cheatham to go to recovered, when it’s 14 days for Metro,” McCarver said. He said he believed the discrepancy may be due to state of Tennessee’s regional data gatherers being tasked with keeping up with 89 counties’ COVID-19 information.
“They are most likely overwhelmed with work. It is not a conspiracy, and I am not laying any blame. The workload for the state is large in tracking this virus, just like handling all the unemployment claims,” McCarver said.
As the school district is closely monitoring active cases to determine how to best handle the opening of the academic year, the mayor said he met Tuesday with Dr. Cathy Beck, Director of Schools.
“I wanted Dr. Beck to have the best information available,” he said, when asked how this theory could impact the opening of schools, which was pushed back to August 13.
Regarding the mayor’s theory, Shelley Walker, Director of the Office of Communication and Media Relations, Tennessee Department of Health issued the following statement:
“In regard to our reporting of COVID-19 cases, our data and the figures we report for confirmed cases are based solely on the results of lab tests."
“We define ‘recovered’ as people who have been confirmed to be asymptomatic by their local or regional health department and have completed their required isolation period or are at least 21 days beyond the first test confirming their illness.”