COVID-19: Updates for 3/24/2020

Images from a downtown Knoxville walk during a COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020
Images from a downtown Knoxville walk during a COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020

As of roughly noon Knoxville time, here is the current situation with acknowledged cases and deaths:

  • World: 400,412 cases, 17,451 deaths
  • U. S.: 49,594 cases (5,860 added since about 10 p.m. last night), 588 deaths (35 added since last night)
  • Tennessee: 615 cases ( as of 3:00 p.m. yesterday, only updated once a day), deaths 2 (unchanged from yesterday)
  • Knox County: 12 (this from the state site, Dr. Buchanan says, 13)

We continue under a “Safer at Home” order, which is slightly less restrictive than “Shelter at Home.” Non-essential businesses were ordered closed in Knox County. City Council will meet tonight, but they will do so electronically and no one will gather at the large assembly room as usual. You can watch that meeting on your local public access channel or stream it live.

To stream the meeting, go to

Xfinity (Comcast) – Channel 12
Charter (Spectrum) – Channel 193
WOW! (Knology) – Channel 6
AT&T U-verse – Channel 99

In today’s mid-day news conference, Dr. Buchanan expressed appreciation for the cooperation from businesses. She also noted that resources are becoming available from the state for small businesses. She encouraged businesses to read the FAQ on the website to get information regarding essential versus non-essential businesses as covered by the local order.

She said testing is being expanded as a top priority. Two new labs just came on line and they are now reporting to the Health Department. Knox County providers have gotten no additional supplies from any agencies, federal or state. Individuals who may have symptoms are encouraged to call first and then come in for an arranged screening.

Dr. Buchanan said that as of this morning, there are thirteen cases in Knox County. This information will now be available on the Knox County Health Department website and will be updated each day. Some are in hospitals and some have recovered. This number is updated more frequently than the state website. She said medical facilities are not overrun at this time.

Asked if there is a way to report a business for not closing, she said they are relying on the businesses, with the exception of the ones they routinely regulate. She said they will try to follow up on others as possible. Asked what would be the trigger that would require us to go to more stringent orders, such as shelter in place, she says she hopes there will be enough cooperation that we won’t have to take the next step.

Questioned about the exception for child care facilities, Dr. Buchanan said they are considered essential in terms of allowing critical workers to work and also for those who can work if they have child care. She noted that their salaries also help the restaurants and others who have been hit so hard. They have asked that children remain in one group all day and not be blended through the course of the day (at lunch, for example). The facilities are required to increase cleaning and other steps.

Noting that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is largely closed, she said that Knox County hopes to keep greenways and parks open as long as possible but she stressed keeping social distancing even in those settings.

Finally this afternoon, I want to encourage all of us to be patient with each other as we work through this difficult period. We’ve all seen the social media conversations that devolve into name calling and disparaging attacks. We all want the same thing. We want to be safe. We want our family and friends to be safe. We don’t want to be irreversibly damaged economically. The tension between those impulses is difficult to navigate internally, let alone to discuss in a civil manner with those who might disagree.

I’ve always tried to maintain a civil discourse on the comment section of this blog. It’s a place where, whatever the topic, we have a wide range of expertise represented among the readers and those who choose to comment. I welcome disagreement. If you have expertise in a matter, say what that is. The rest of us would do well to listen to people who are trained on particular topics.

If you disagree with another person, whether me or others, feel free to says so in an appropriate manner. Better than simply stating that you disagree, explain why. This is potentially helpful. Calling someone stupid isn’t helpful. Patiently explain your perspective and maybe you’ll bring that person to your point of view. Saying the president or the mayor or anyone in between is ignorant isn’t ok. Saying you disagree with what they are doing is fine.

“Typical liberal,” “Stupid Trumper,” “Self-centered millenial,” “Clueless Boomer,” are all examples of the intolerant and hateful rhetoric that generalizes and stereotypes entire groups of people. They are not helpful. State your opinion and let others state theirs. If you call names or cast aspersions or denigrate entire groups of people, I will either delete your comment or I will edit it to remove the offending portion. I will never censor opinions, but I will enforce a level of civility.