COVID-19: 10/30/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, KCS and Today’s UTK Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 10.30.2020 (Source: TN.gov)

It’s the last update before the weekend and I hope you have wonderful, safe plans. We’ve got a fun Halloween party at the Urban Household for our two young ones. Casper – the old and the new – is on tap, among other things.

A quick note on local voting: 153,197 people voted early and in-person in Knox County, which is up from 135,737 four years ago. So far, 13,080 absentee ballots have been registered (with probably more to come) compared to 5,315 total four years ago. The total of votes cast so far is equivalent to 89.9% of all votes cast in the last election. In the last election, early voting represented 76.8% of the total vote.

We’ll learn in a few days whether more people simply voted early or whether a larger number will vote this time around. My sense is that the polls will be crowded on Tuesday and we’ll have one of, if not the largest voter turnout in the county’s history. As a footnote, I’ve followed the Love Kitchen early voting site and the turnout there more than doubled the turnout from four years ago, from 4,363 to 9,536.

Now a note on comments: I’ve rarely blocked people from making comments, but I’ve done it from time-to-time. Usually, it’s when the person becomes abusive and starts dropping f-bombs. It happened yesterday. When it happened and I looked for earlier comments from that person, it became obvious that person was commenting under three different names, thus falsely amplifying their points. The emails were bogus. Just to be clear: You cannot comment under more than one profile. Just don’t. And if you direct name calling or f-bombs at others, you are done.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 2,660 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the pandemic totals to 242,575 confirmed cases and 14,305 probable cases. 227,271 have recovered and 12,041 people currently have active cases. The seven-day average for new cases in Tennessee is 2,710. Yesterday, the state ranked 12th in the U.S. for new cases. [Continue reading]

COVID-19: 10/29/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, KCS and the Knox County Health Department Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: TN.gov)

I hope you are keeping dry and safe on this rainy day. My heart goes out to the folks on the gulf coast who have had more than their share of hurricane misery this fall. It’s weird to be at home with the kids who have a two-hour rain delay for virtual school when the walk down the hallway is pretty dry, as far as I know. Strange times.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 2,446 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the pandemic totals to 240,198 confirmed cases and 14,022 probable cases. Of these, 224,822 are considered inactive, while 12,135 remain active. The seven-day average for new cases in the state is 2,623.

34 deaths were reported for the day, bringing the total deaths from COVID-19 to 3,241. The seven-day average for deaths is 39 per day. Yesterday the state tied for seventh highest daily death rate in the U.S.

78 additional COVID-positive Tennesseans were admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 10,140 hospitalizations in the state. As I stated yesterday, I am publishing hospital totals from two days earlier going forward, as the initial numbers are often revised after publication and are therefore misleading on publication. As of 10/27, there were 1,360 COVID-positive Tennesseans in the hospital. Of these, 408 are in ICUs and 182 are on ventilators. Each of these numbers have gotten quickly worse over the last six weeks and are at or near their pandemic peaks.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 10.29.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Reported testing numbers for the day rebounded slightly off the low number the previous day and were reported at 22,000, bringing the pandemic total testing to just under 3.6 million in the state. The positive test rate for the day was reported at 10.68%. Johns Hopkins University reports a seven-day average positive rate of 9.5%, a slight improvement over the previous day.

Knox County Daily Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Local News:

The Knox County Health Department is reporting 75 new cases today, the lowest daily number in the last 8 days. The website initially published a much higher number, but it was an error. Unfortunately, it was up long enough for at least one news site to run the number as a banner headline. With the additional cases, the total number of confirmed cases for the county is 12,903 confirmed and 635 probable cases.

There are currently 1,431 Knox County residents with active cases of COVID-19. No additional deaths were reported, leaving that total at 103.

63 are currently hospitalized, down six from yesterday’s near-record total. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 468 COVID-positive Knox County residents have been hospitalized. The state is reported a seven-day positive test average of 11.4% for the county, up significantly from the previously reported average of 8.9%.

I thought a statement made by Dr. Buchanan in last night’s Board of Health meeting was worth repeating, shortened here to the part that struck me:

I’ll be honest, when I look at our numbers, the pure public health in me says we need to be shutting things down. The practical side of me that has lived and practiced in this county a long time knows that that is not going to be tolerated . . .I think it is going to have to impact a lot more people’s lives . . .

Health Department Briefing:

Charity Menefee chaired today’s meeting. She focused on safety while trick-or-treating, including staying within your family unit or keeping six feet of distance. She suggested incorporating your mask into your costume and encouraged washing hands.

She confirmed the above numbers and discussed the benchmarks, which were covered here in yesterday’s article.

Questions:

  • How do the survey results reported last night guide the response going forward? They showed that some interventions, like mask mandates is helpful for everyone to hear.
  • Have you noticed any trends or bumps related to last week’s fall break from schools? Those would likely show up next week.
  • How many of your reported deaths came because of COVID only? We report what comes from the state as the primary diagnosis.
  • Are the recent deaths showing any new or different comorbidities? Not at this time. Older populations, heart disease, etc.
  • Why is it important for the “red flag” days to be consecutive? It gives us an idea of the trajectory of growth.
  • When will the additional surge beds be implemented? That will depend on a number of variables which the hospitals could better address.
  • Do you still believe there is a higher viral load in the community than testing shows? We are not identifying a particular group where the spread is happening. Since it is across the board, yes, we believe the spread is high across the community.
  • We noticed a change in the case counts this morning. Can you address that? Yes, that was a typo, not a mistake in the data. The amount of data published daily is unprecedented for us and errors will happen.
  • The election office is setting up a COVID-positive voting location. Does that concern you? Voting is very important. I’m sure they will implement safe practices.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee continues to report very low numbers relative to their initial surge at the beginning of the semester. There are currently 66 active cases reported, up six from yesterday. 1,695 students and staff have recovered, while an additional 8 new cases were reported for the day. The number in isolation or quarantine has continued to ease upward slightly and is now 316. Of these, 41 are employees, 105 are on-campus students and 170 are non-residential.

There continue to be no recently identified clusters.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County Schools are reporting 65 active cases, including 41 students and 24 staff. The number has dropped slightly and more closely resembles the numbers prior to the fall break. 513 in the school community have recovered and 937 are now in isolation or quarantine. The number in isolation or quarantine has steadily increased since break and is now approaching pre-break numbers. Of the 937, 114 are staff and 823 are students.

The four metrics which have largely stayed in green remain so, but custodial staffing has returned to red from yell and substitute availability remains red. All schools are currently open to in-person instruction.

Knox County Board of Health Meeting (10/28/2020)

  All members were present and were joined by David Sanders from the Knox County Law Department, Chancellor Plowman from UTK and Dr. Katie Cahill from the UTK Howard Baker Center. Dr. Cahill started the meeting by discussing the Pulse … [Continue reading]

COVID-19: 10/28/2020 (State, Local, UTK, KCS)

Halfway through the week and under a week until election day. How are you doing? Are you finding some joy along the way? I'm enjoying the fall color, which is shaping up to be beautiful in East Tennessee. Even the rain for the next couple of days … [Continue reading]

What Are Your 100 Things To Do In Knoxville Before You Die?

I've been tasked with listing 100 things to do in Knoxville before you die. I love my city, as you all know, but it's an interesting exercise. It's even more specific: I have to list twenty in each of five categories: Food and Drink, Music and … [Continue reading]