Hamilton County is averaging 174 new COVID-19 cases a day and a 13.9% positivity rate for new tests in the past week after the third straight day of more than 210 new infections reported by the health department.
As of Thursday, there were 1,700 active cases in the county and 115 confirmed hospitalizations, both record highs for the second straight day. Of those hospitalized in Hamilton County, 34 patients are in intensive care and more than half reside in another county. The virus has killed another Hamilton County resident, for a total of 120 since the pandemic began.
The growing number of active cases is pushing Hamilton County Schools closer to a "Phase 2" hybrid schedule, in which students who are enrolled in in-person learning would only go on campus two days a week, with three days a week of virtual instruction.
The threshold for a transition is a five-day average of 1,470 active cases or more, and that average is currently at 1,444.
In addition to the five-day average of active cases, the district considers the average number of positive cases, hospitalizations, patients in intensive care, teacher absences and student absences to determine the phase of learning.
"When the [active cases] number exceeds 1,470 to move into the transition area, then the district also looks at the transition considerations to provide additional information. How heavily the transition considerations weigh into the move to a different phase will be determined by how many are trending up and by how much," schools spokesperson Tim Hensley said in an email.
Parents should be prepared and have a plan for all of the potential phases, he said.
"We take it one day at a time and carefully review the data we receive from the health department to make the best decision for our students and staff and remain prepared for what the pandemic brings," Hensley said. "One thing we have learned over the past year is that you do not do well trying to predict COVID-19. We follow the data and trends every day as they fall to us and are prepared for the numbers to go either way."
As of Thursday, there were 61 active COVID-19 cases among students and 33 among employees. Another 1,152 students and 179 employees were in quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed case or awaiting test results.
Contact Elizabeth Fite at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @ecfite.