3 reasons why Tennessee is seeing lower COVID-19 death rates than other states


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As state health officials release daily COVID-19 numbers, data shows how Tennessee stacks up to other states in the rise of cases and deaths.

“Certainly while we are watching those numbers each day, we know that each of those numbers is a real person,” said Dr. Melinda Buntin, chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

As of Thursday, Tennessee had 2,749 new cases and 13 new deaths in a 24-hour period. So far, 796 people have died because of coronavirus in the state of Tennessee.

That death toll is a fraction of the number other states are experiencing. For instance, Georgia has seen more than 3,104.

“In Georgia, they have had about 29 deaths per hundred thousand Georgians. Whereas in Tennessee, we’ve only had about 11 and a half deaths per hundred thousand Tennesseans so far,” said Buntin.

Buntin says there are 3 possible reasons for the stark difference in Tennessee deaths.

“Here in Tennessee we did see a large number of cases among young people, those aged 20-35 throughout June. And, they were some of the largest groups getting infected,” Buntin explained.

She also says the timing of the virus making its way to Tennessee and development in treatment has helped to keep death numbers down.

“Over time, we are fortunate that we are getting better at treating COVID patients,” said Buntin. “The medical practices have changed and so we may have lower death rates even among those sick enough to be hospitalized.”

While number in deaths are slowly rising, Buntin says there are more to come.

“We have been fortunate that we weren’t on the early edge of this pandemic, but with our hospitalization rates rising the way we have seen over the past few weeks, I’m sorry to say deaths are probably coming too.”

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