NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's Trousdale County has the highest per capita coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. and Bledsoe County has the fifth, according to an Associated Press analysis. In both counties, the high infection rates are attributable to their local prisons.
Trousdale, a county of just over 9,500 people, has reported 1,363 cases of the virus, nearly all of those at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center run by private prison contractor CoreCivic.
The Tennessee-based company tested all inmates at the institution earlier this month, reporting that 1,299 of 2,444 inmates tested positive as did 50 of 281 workers there. Two Trousdale prisoners have died after testing positive, although the Tennessee Department of Correction has said it is asking the medical examiner to determine the exact cause of death. One inmate at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex also died after contracting COVID-19.
The state-run Bledsoe prison had the second largest outbreak among Tennessee's 14 prisons, with 586 of 2,316 inmates testing positive. That accounted for most of the county's 604 cases out of a population of 14,602. State corrections officials have said 580 of the Bledsoe inmates completed 14 days of isolation without becoming ill.
Meanwhile, Tennessee's tax revenue in April came in significantly lower than anticipated, revealing a new glimpse into the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state's Department of Finance and Administration announced Tuesday that Tennessee collected roughly $855 million less in April than it collected in the same month last year. In total, the state saw nearly $1.3 billion in tax revenue last month, or about 35% less than had been projected before the pandemic.
Department officials say it's been decades since Tennessee has seen such dramatic drops in revenue, but cautioned the numbers do not account for all of April's tax revenue because some tax filing extensions were granted as part of the coronavirus response.
Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley said the extensions resulted in an under-collection of some revenue. Eley said next month's numbers will likely better reflect the total impact of the statewide closures that were issued to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Overall, the sales and use tax — the state's main source of revenue — was down $61 million from what was projected for April, or about 7.4% less.
However, tax revenue on alcohol and beer was up by nearly $1 million more than projected.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.