The active cases of COVID-19 in Hamblen County has increased almost 400% in two weeks, state records show.

Hamblen County saw a dramatic increase in positive COVID-19 tests over the weekend and one Ballad Health hospital official said staff are now seeing children come into their hospitals and into their pediatric intensive care units.

“We are seeing some kids, including in the pediatric ICU,” Alan Levine, president and CEO of Ballad Health, said in a statement. “I have asked the CEO of Niswonger Children’s Hospital to prepare a surge plan in the event we see an increase in the number of kids impacted by the Delta variant.”

The number of positive cases in Hamblen County rose to 274 from 213 reported on Friday, an increase of 61 active cases in two days.

State records show that positive case numbers are now approaching the numbers seen during the highest peak of the COVID-19 pandemic during December and January.

The increases in active cases come as the more contagious and stronger Delta variant becomes the primary strain of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, Hamblen County also saw one person die from COVID-19, making the total deaths in the county 176 from 175 since the pandemic began last March.

Last week, Gordon Lintz, CAO of Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare Systems, said the hospital is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients within the hospital. He also said the majority of those patients are younger in their late 30s to late 50s.

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said Tuesday the Hamblen County COVID-19 Task Force of the increase.

“We are monitoring the situation,” he said.

Hamblen County is averaging almost 30 new positive tests a day. A week ago, Hamblen County had 103 active cases. Two weeks ago, the county reported 55 active cases.

That is a 168% increase in a week and a 398% increase in cases in two weeks.

Ballad Health, which has hospitals in Hawkins, Hancock counties and Kingsport and Greeneville, have seen dramatic increases.

“Ballad Health now has more than 100 inpatients with COVID-19, more that quadrupling our volume from July 4 and double last week,” Levine said.

He said there is a national shortage of nurses and resources required to care for COVID-19 patients, so he warned that the public may see extended waiting times in emergency rooms within the emergency departments.

He said those who have been screened as life threatening will be prioritized.

The Delta variant takes hold as Hamblen County has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the Lakeway Area. As of Tuesday, the state recorded that 34.18 percent of those in Hamblen County have been administered one shot of vaccination. That is up from 33.79% recorded on Friday.