COVID-19: 4/6/2020 Updates (Including Today’s Health Department Briefing)

Empty Gay Street, First Friday in Coronavirus Times, Knoxville, April 2020

I hope everyone had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather we had over the weekend. Spring is springing no matter what is going on with the humans, and it is beautiful, as always. As a bonus, West Knoxville got to see a double rainbow yesterday, and in Downtown we had a visit from a cardinal on our balcony. Life continues.

Still, the predictions for this upcoming week from the White House and their response team have been dire. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said,

“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”

One of the most sobering statements was a small comment made by Dr. Birx, which didn’t immediately draw attention, but has received some coverage since. The two most basic activities we must do to survive are get food and medicine. She discouraged both, saying they should be avoided for the next two weeks.

“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe.”

International News:

After crossing the 1,000,000 threshold just four days ago, there are now 1,292,361 diagnosed and acknowledged cases since the pandemic began. There have been 70,680 deaths world-wide and 272,501 people are reported to have recovered, while 46,110 are reported as serious or critical. There were 4,738 deaths reported yesterday across the world. Early signs are the number of new cases may be stabilizing world wide, with the slowing in Europe offsetting the growing numbers in the U.S.

The United States continues to lead the world in the number of confirmed cases, with 339,596, which is roughly the total of the three countries below us (although those three countries have a smaller population of about 190 million aggregated). European countries including Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, while still adding thousands of cases each day, have seen a slowing in the numbers of new cases.

I’ve mentioned Sweden as an interesting case because they have not clamped down as harshly as other countries. At the moment, they seem to be doing no worse than other countries and better than some, though their numbers may be depressed by the lower rate of testing as compared to their neighbors. They reported 387 new cases and 28 new deaths on Sunday, whereas last Thursday the numbers were 512 new cases and 59 new deaths. Is it possible their approach has worked or is this a lull before their numbers rise rapidly?

Germany has also drawn some attention, in this case for its remarkably low death rate. At nineteen deaths per million in population, it is experiencing far better outcomes than any of its neighbors. The U.S., by comparison, earlier in our curve, already has 29 deaths per million. Their mortality rate is about 1.6%, the best in the world. (South Korea is 1.8%, the U.S. about 3%, Spain and Italy 10% and 12% respectively).

In a weekend New York Times exploration of the phenomenon, they noted that Germany had prepared for this possibility by having a massive supply of ventilators, so there has been no shortage. They’ve dispatched “corona taxis,” medical personnel going to homes of patients to identify more quickly any who need to go to the hospital. Evidence suggests that having patients at the hospital before the increasingly well-known six-hour-crash greatly increases their chance of survival.

Additionally, a simple anomaly has resulted in the average age of infection in Germany being closer to 40 years old, as opposed to Spain and Italy, where the average age of those diagnosed is in the 60 year range. A hospital in Berlin had developed a test by mid-January and had posted the formula online. Germany had a massive stockpile of tests by the time the first patient was identified.

A Heart Over Knoxville in the Time of the Coronavirus, Knoxville, March 2020

National News:

As of the moment of this article, the U.S. has 339,596 identified cases of COVID-19. Compared to Friday’s number of 216,772, this represents an approximate increase of 56.7% over the weekend. 123,018 of those cases are in the state of New York. Acknowledged deaths from the virus number 9,695. The number of deaths reported on Friday was 5,140, yielding an 88.6% increase in deaths over the last three days. Even with the increasingly staggering numbers, the New York Times reports a myriad of ways the death count is being under-reported.

The flow of information from the daily presidential briefings is in different portions helpful, informative, confounding, and maddening. Large percentages of the time continue to be devoted to discourse about unrelated subjects (border security) and praising the president while attacking his enemies, particularly those in the press. The president has used the press conferences to brag on his ratings and demean his least favorite network.

The information is often delivered with mixed-signals, or it doesn’t match what we are all seeing on a local level. We are told (after pressure from the White House) that the CDC recommends face masks while the president says in the same announcement that he will not wear one. We were told weeks ago that “anyone who wants a test can have one,” and locally and nationally, we continue to hear stories of people who aren’t eligible for testing.

We’re told the national stockpile isn’t intended for the states (then who is it for?) and then that it will be opened up because “governors have failed.” The president continues, every day, to urge Americans to use a drug that his own panel says may not be safe for use with this illness. Even as we are told we are entering what is projected to be the worst two weeks of the pandemic, the president continues to talk as if opening the country back up for business is eminent. He says the business loan program is a great success out-the-door, while articles have been published all over the country detailing how this is not so.

State and Local News:

Tennessee is currently reporting 3,633 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths. Mid-day Friday numbers were 3,045 and 26, meaning that over the weekend, Tennessee’s confirmed cases rose by 19.3% and deaths increased by 69.2%. The rate of new infections, given that this covers a three day period, is encouraging. Deaths will logically continue to lag infections, so a reduction in infections will ultimately lead to a reduced number of deaths.

The latest numbers posted for Knox County indicate 119 cases have been identified and 70 people have recovered while only one has died. Eighteen people required hospitalization. There were 85 confirmed cases as of mid-day Friday, yielding a 40% increase over the last three days.

Market Square, A Quiet Spring in the Time of the Coronavirus, Knoxville, March 2020

Knox County Health Department Briefing:

Expressing gratitude to her staff and to health care workers everywhere, Dr. Buchanan also expressed gratitude for the thank-you notes that have been sent. She thanked Kroger for the 262 tests that were administered through the drive-through test. She says they intend to expand testing as they are able. She encouraged a call to the Health Department if you are having symptoms.

She discussed the Medical Surge and Alternate Care Site Task Force, which is charged with looking at the expected surge in cases. It includes multiple agencies, and they met for the first time this weekend. Acknowledging the 119 cases locally, and the other numbers listed above, she said they are looking at models every day to determine what needs to be done.

Now that we have over 100 cases, she says they have more meaningful data to make projections and that these will be made public later this week. She says we are learning more about the virus and that will help us going forward. She noted the new guidance encouraging masks, but stressed that it does not supersede social distancing.

In response to questions:

  • Advises Knox County residents to follow CDC guidelines for masks, particularly when you are in a spot (like a grocery store aisle) where you can’t practice social distancing.
  • She does not have the data on PPE collected by the city over the weekend.
  • We expect our cases to continue to rise at a slow rate. She stressed we are trying to avoid the spike which she said is why we need to continue what we are doing to slow the rise.
  • Most of our cases currently are due to community spread.
  • Regarding who will run the new Expo hospital center and who will staff it, she said the Army Corps of Engineers is setting it up, while a local task force will operate it.
  • A question was asked regarding grocery store employees testing positive. She would not acknowledge specific grocery store cases, but said they are working closely with any employer who has employees who have tested positive.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thank you Alan. Concise, useful information, as always.

    • Concerned in tellico village says

      If people aren’t getting it and putting essentials in harms way. What can we do to make this stop? Is there a place to report abuse?

  2. Huge thank you, Alan, for your complete, careful, and above all, humane reporting! It includes everything and is the best concise reporting. And the pictures of spring in the time of the coronavirus uplifts me.

    • Thanks for you daily thoughtful reports.
      What is the “well known six hour window”. Even google did not seem to know

      • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

        See the answer to Sher’s question. I’ve seen rapid decline mentioned so often in articles (often about a six hour window), that I said it was commonly known. Maybe not. My bad.

  3. What is this ” well-known six-hour crash” that you referred to in Germany? I read the linked NYT article and only saw how near the end of the first week of the illness gave critical clues as to how serious the illness would be. Thank you, I read your updates every day–I truly appreciate you doing this!

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I may have spoken incorrectly about it being well-known. It’s a pattern that I’m reading over and over in stories about the virus in which a person seems to be stable, though sick and in about a six hour period, they spiral quickly downward and either die or are intubated. Here’s one such story: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/05/health/young-people-dying-coronavirus-sanjay-gupta/index.html. In the Times article, this is the decline I assumed the German doctors were talking about when they stressed putting the patients on ventilators before they become critical.

      • Thank you for the link–I am trying to stay as informed as possible. Knowledge is power. Thank you for your blog!

  4. Chris Eaker says

    I family took a long drive around rural Knox, Anderson, and Grainger Counties on Sunday morning (staying in the car the whole time), and I was completely floored at how many churches were meeting. It’s so irresponsible for pastors to continue to call their parishioners to the buildings. That has to stop.

    • Greg Lamm says

      Just wait for Easter. I am expecting a massive spike in the week following.

    • Dee Pierce says

      I so agree with you, Chris. And thanks for letting us know. I was aware that a number of megachurches around the country are not following the containment/social distancing recommendations. And I believe one megachurch pastor in Florida was arrested because of his refusal to close his church doors. But I assumed that East Tn. churches were NOT meeting. I hope you will contact the government leaders in all of those counties about this issue. I’d be happy to call too, if you will provide church names. I’m especially shocked that it’s happening in Knox and Anderson counties. And a message to Christians: if you care about evangelizing, ignoring/denying scientific fact based advice is not helping your missionary efforts. And as a Christian, I oppose pastors who would put their congregations in harm’s way and foolishly try to “test” God’s promises of protection when God has clearly provided scientists and physicians to guide our way with such matters. When will they ever learn…when will they ever learn?!

      • Chris Eaker says

        I wish I had written down the names so I could contact them directly. As you know, there are tiny churches all over rural areas so there’s no way I could go back and figure it out now. We were just out to enjoy the drive.

        • Dee Pierce says

          I think you should still call the local authorities. They may have a good idea of the congregations based on where you were driving. They may even suspect certain churches. You can also call 311 here in Knoxville and I assume Knox County where you can report social gatherings of more than 10 people. No one wants to be a “tattle tale.” But if people act irresponsibly, those of us who understand the dangers they present should feel some moral obligation to report. I think we’re mostly preaching to the choir on this media venue.

      • CHRIS CAMPBELL says

        Why don’t you keep your nose out of something that is of no concern to you? Taking names and turning them in to law enforcement? Have you totally lost your mind, comrade??

        • Chris Eaker says

          I don’t know where you get the idea that it’s of no concern to me or anyone else. It’s a pandemic, for crying out loud. Your personal liberty isn’t that important. And when they’re meeting and putting other people in danger, it’s everyone’s problem and we’re obligated to do what we can to stop it.

          • CHRIS CAMPBELL says

            Sir, since you have no use for the constitution and Bill of Rights, I will not waste my time with you. Enjoy your dacha..

          • When people get sick they compromise the capacity of our health facilities. And if they have no insurance (that more likely since Tennessee refused to accept federal money to expand Tenncare), our hospitals have to swallow the costs. Making more likely that some hospital employees will have shortened shifts.

        • Dee Pierce says

          Names of church congregations. Their leaders should be warned and instructed to close their doors during a pandemic. And as far as it being of “no concern to me and many others,” I have to ask you the same question. Have you lost your mind? COVID-19 is a highly contagious and deadly virus running rampant across our country. The fact that it can be spread when someone is asymptomatic means it’s also a silent or invisible killer. Congregating/socializing can be a matter of life and death during a pandemic. IF a carrier is socializing with a group, that individual could potentially inflect, hurt and in some cases, kill others. So that should concern all of us. Including yourself. Maybe do a little more research?

          • CHRIS CAMPBELL says

            You’re serious, right?? Omg, please do not come out of your country home until 2021. Maybe you’ll be safe by then😂😂

      • Debbie R. says

        Dont worry about your church being empty so is the tomb. The church is the people so practice a little common sense and take care of yourself.

        • With respect to the tomb being empty, even Jesus Christ couldn’t follow the “shelter in place” mandate behind that rock. The audacity! He probably thought he was the son of God or some such nonsense!

          (credit for awkward gallows-scented religious humor to John Oliver, though ye thumpers can lambast me for now… “you know, they refused Jesus too!”)

    • ISN’T THAT A VIOLATION OF STAY AT HOME. REPORT YOURSELF TO THE SHERIFF

  5. Angela Roberts says

    Thank you as always, Alan!!

  6. Colleen Johnston says

    New model from Washington University shows we’ve successfully flattened the curve!! News 5 Nashville has the story.
    https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/new-model-predicts-dramatic-covid-19-flattening-in-tennessee

    • Kevin Bogle says

      This is encouraging news, but I wouldn’t be declaring victory on flattening the curve just yet. The very first sentence of the story you linked says “New projections for Tennessee predict a significant flattening of the curve of COVID-19 cases expected in the coming weeks.” These are only projected figures for what they expect over the next few weeks –if everyone continues to stay home– not a recap of an already-successful effort. The last thing we need right now is have everybody thinking it’s okay to go back out to stores and restaurants and parks and churches. If it’s working, then it’s working because we’re all staying home right now. And if it’s going to keep working, we’re going to have to stay put.

      • Dee Pierce says

        Totally agree, Kevin! Thanks for the necessary caveat. IF I’m recalling correctly, northern Italians thought it was safe to mingle soon after their number of cases and deaths initially declined. But when they went about business as usual, the cases spiraled out of control. And I think everyone knows the rest of that story….

  7. This has to be one of the most sad things I have ever experienced, unfortunately it is here. There have been a lot of lessons learned during this. Absolutely no one is to blame for anything happening, Americans are hard workers and very stubborn people. We refuse to lay down even if it is something that should have been done. I really pray that when this settles everyone doesn’t get into the blame game, I know most of us want to move on with our lives, blaming is only adding to the problem, live and learn, always a lesson!

  8. There are so many different sources of information on the CV situation. I’m not sure why you feel compelled to add one more source……..sorry……just not useful for me. Look forward to the time you can return to your lane……just one person’s perspective.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      It’s an appreciated perspective, Steve. A lot of people seem to appreciate what I’m doing. As for my lane, that would be reporting about downtown Knoxville. The first morning I shifted to this topic I did so because it seemed false to write about anything else. I assumed I would quickly turn to other things. But what is my lane, right now? What is happening in downtown Knoxville? This is what is happening. What else would you have me discuss? Still, you are right, there are other excellent sources and you and I can reconnect when this is over, if that is what you prefer.

    • Kevin Bogle says

      This is the first worldwide pandemic we’ve had in a century. This is the biggest news story (in terms of the number of people affected) since World War II. There’s not much else going on right now, and therefore, not much else to write about. But he’s got to keep on working, and the coronavirus story is currently the only game in town.

  9. Ben King says

    A question was asked regarding grocery store employees testing positive, she would not acknowledge specific grocery store cases, but said they are working closely with any employer who has employees who have tested positive.

    Not releasing this information bothers me. It speaks more to profits for the store than it does for the health and welfare of the citizens.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Or it may be there aren’t cases connected to grocery stores. She didn’t say and they have been very tight-lipped about information like that, which would lead to people wanting to know which grocery store, etc. They’ve done the same about neighborhoods.

  10. I wasn’t able to read the linked article but perhaps it mentioned that Merkel has a doctorate in quantum chemistry while trump was a reality show host. The gulf between their beliefs in science might explain Germany’s superior performance in dealing with the pandemic.

  11. Susan Ballard says

    Thank you Alan

  12. Would you mind clarifying your numbers. On Friday you reported:
    “The Knox County Health Department is currently reporting 93 confirmed cases in the county, with 50 of those patients recovered and 14 having been hospitalized at some point in their illness. The number of deaths continues to hold at 1. The number of cases has increased 9.4% from yesterday. The number reported as recovered has increased by 19%. If these numbers could be maintained (faster increase in recoveries than cases), Knox County might avoid the dire situations many localities have faced.”
    In your article today, you suggested that Friday’s number was a good bit lower, “There were 85 confirmed cases as of mid-day Friday, yielding a 40% increase over the last three days.”
    If the number was 93, the percentage increase is not quite as alarming.
    I would appreciate your clarification.

  13. Saw you couldn’t resist and took the opportunity to take a jab at President Trump.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Everything I said is factually accurate. There has been continuing inaccurate information, conflicting information and excessive irrelevant information like ratings numbers. I have been extremely restrained in what I have said from the beginning. If you consider what I said to be a jab, how do you feel about the daily list of insults President Trump hurls during the press conferences? I stated facts, he simply attacks.

      • No, you spoke opinion. One really dumb opinion of yours was that border security is unrelated.
        ….covid19…..but border security is unrelated…?
        The reporters attack HIM during the conferences, I don’t really care if he throws the heat back at them. I’d rather not have a president that just tucks his tail.
        This is a pandemic. Trump didn’t cook it up in his kitchen, and it doesn’t even matter at this point what country it came from. It’s here.
        Your political opinions mean nothing.
        They’re just useless little farts in the wind.
        Stick to the actual facts and not your own regurgitated version of your spoon fed CNN bullshit.

    • I’m sure there is some grape-flavored sugar water in your refrigerator. Go drink some, it will make everything better!

      • R Miller says

        Don’t be racist. Everyone knows many of us prefer to call it by its preferred title: “Purple Drink”. Wouldn’t know what you were referring to calling it “grape-flavored”.

        And because everyone should play nicer to each other on this reply board in general, I’m gonna ignore the oblique & casually insensitive reference to Jim Jones’ followers and that (admittedly smaller-scale) tragedy.

        But wait! The pain is evoked in death, especially in context of the number of related & concurrent (or nearly concurrent) deaths that we witness and emotionally &/or intellectually process in real time or shared history reminds me of a quote:

        “One death is a tragedy. A thousand deaths, however, is a statistic!”

        Bonus points to those playing along who know that this quote belongs to none other than the inimitable and obviously quotable, Joseph Stalin.

  14. Regina Santore says
  15. The dog park downtown has been closed. Does anyone know of any dog parks that are open?

  16. Very well stated, Dee Pierce. Alan, this is where I go mostly to be informed. It has helped me greatly. Thank you. You do an incredible job- it is valuable and appreciated by so many.

  17. Carol E. Myers says

    I am just going to jump on and say I’m appreciative of your daily updates, and if people are butt hurt over what you write and report, they can Scroll. On. By.

    Keep up the great work, Alan.

  18. Elaine Watson says

    Thank you Alan. Always appreciate what you share with us.

  19. I appreciate your hard work and excellent communication of the facts Alan. Your writing is not laden with opinion which is why your daily report is my go to source, alongside science publications and reputable news sources regarding the economic impact. Facts regarding what leaders are saying, how they are responding, what measures they are, or are not taking themselves, as example, and how they are connected financially to their recommendations is essential information to consider in democracy. Thank you, every day, Alan.

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