COVID-19: 6/12/2020 (Including Today’s Health Department Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 6.12.2020 (Source:
Worldwide Daily Cases 6.12.2020 (Source:

It’s Friday. I hope that still has some meaning for you. I also hope that as you make the weekend special you do so safely. We are so fortunate to have been spared the worst of the virus in Knox County. What we do going forward will determine if that continues.

International News:

There are 7,642,204 total confirmed and reported cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with 137,887 cases reported yesterday. For the second consecutive day, this is the highest number reported since numbers have been tracked. As always, it should be noted that testing is ramping up in some countries, and that may account for some of the increase. It’s unlikely it accounts for the pace of increase we are currently seeing.

Worldwide Daily Deaths 6.12.2020 (Source:

The number of deaths worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 425,024. The number of deaths reported yesterday was 4,951, slightly below the previous day. While the average number of deaths declined to around 3,900 per day in late May, it has increased to around 4,400 per day in June, though still below its worst levels of about 6,900 in late April.

For the second consecutive day, there are twenty different countries reporting at least 1,000 new cases. The list continues to be dominated by Brazil, which reported over 30,000 new cases for the second consecutive day, with 30,465. The U.S. was second with 23,300, followed by India with 11,128.

Brazil has still only tested at a rate less than 10% that of the U.S. and India has tested at a rate not much more than half that of Brazil, so their numbers cannot come close to reflecting actual rate of infections or deaths. It’s worth noting here the worthlessness of simply total numbers of tests given: India has given four times the number of tests Brazil has given. Brazil’s testing program is nearly twice as thorough (though not thorough at all) because of population size. Per capita testing is all that matters.

Outside of the three countries above, the highest rates of increases appear to be in Pakistan, Chile, Mexico, Bangladesh, South Africa, Egypt and Argentina. It’s also worth noting that the rate of spread and the number of new cases was higher in Sweden (1326) yesterday than in any other European country. They just topped the UK, which has had a hard time bringing their numbers down and they had three times as many new cases as the next country down, Spain (427).

What would epidemiologists do? (WWED?) As we look to epidemiologists to predict what might happen next, it’s interesting to consider what they would be willing to do in their personal lives, as a clue to how worried or confident they might be. What life activities are they willing to do now? This fall? What would they put off to next year?

A recent survey asked 511 epidemiologists about 18 different everyday activities. While there is a lot of nuance and division, some of the outtakes include: They are mostly (not nearly all) willing now to bring in the mail without precautions and go to a doctors appointment or vacation overnight within driving distance. For most, they said it would be 3 to 12 months before they were willing to send their children to school or camp, attend a small dinner party, work in a shared office or go out to a restaurant. A plurality said it would be over a year before they were willing to attend a wedding, funeral or church service or stop wearing a face covering.

U.S. Daily Cases 6.12.2020 (Source:

National News:

There are currently 2,094,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic. There is a total of 116,165 deaths. Yesterday, the U.S. reported an additional 23,300 cases and 904 deaths. After declining through the month of May, new cases have leveled off at about 21,000 per day for the last two weeks.

U.S. Daily Deaths 6.12.2020 (Source:

As is the case around the world, the decline in daily reported deaths has been sharper than the decline in cases. In the U.S., deaths have continued to decline this week and now average around 800 per day. The decline in deaths is thought likely to continue through the summer.

The distribution of cases throughout the U.S. is another story behind the story of total numbers. Heavily populated northeastern states continue to see declines in numbers, while states across the south of the country, both east and west, continue to see increases. Florida, for example, reported its highest daily number of new cases yesterday, with 1,698 reported. That same day it reported 49 deaths, including that of a 27 year old near Tampa.

Five states reported 1,000 or more new cases yesterday: California (3,574), Texas (2,023), Florida (1,698), Arizona (1,412) and North Carolina (1,177). Again, it is worth noting that these are some of our hottest states. The virus may be slowed by heat, but it isn’t stopped.

Other southern states, in addition to Texas, Florida and North Carolina, reporting some of the worst new numbers yesterday: Georgia (#6), Alabama (#7), South Carolina (#11), Tennessee (#15), Virginia (#16), Arkansas (#17) and Louisiana (#19). The only southern state missing (unless you include Kentucky, which is significantly down the list), is Mississippi. Mississippi did not report any numbers yesterday and said it would update on Friday.

Tennessee Daily Cases 6.12.2020 (Source:

State and Local News:

Yesterday, Tennessee reported 471 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 28,340 since the beginning of the pandemic. 406 patients are reported to have recovered, increasing the number of active cases by 65 to around 9,400. Five additional deaths yesterday brought our total to 441 in the state, while 21 additional people were hospitalized. About 6500 people were tested, bringing our totals to a bit over 535,000.

Tennessee Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 6.12.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Locally, the Knox County Health Department is reporting 22 new cases today, bringing our total to 547. There are 111 active cases and 4 Knox County residents are hospitalized. There have been no additional deaths and the total remains at five. This marks the second time we have exceeded 20 new cases in the last ten days, a mark which had never been exceeded at any time prior (We had 20 precisely on April 8.). There are 12 probable cases.

Focusing on schools, the article linked above surveying the epidemiologists, found the majority (70%) said they would be willing to send their children to school by the fall. This promises to be a hot topic this summer, with Knox County set to begin work this week on a re-opening plan. An online survey for parents is a portion of the information they are gathering.

Compass has a very good article today detailing the current graduations in Knox County, which were changed from July with no audience, to June with up to four family members per graduate. The county officially says people should wear face mask but very, very few are doing so, including our officials distributing the diplomas.

Additionally, at least two proms (for Central and Hardin Valley) are being organized outside Knox County for Knox County High Schools. Both are “limiting” attendance to 300 students and their dates and each will be held in Lenoir City to avoid the 50 person gathering cap in place in Knox County. The county states these are not official, but they have been supported to some degree by the schools.

Knox County Daily Cases 6.12.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Health Department Press Conference:

Dr. Buchanan started today’s press conference expressing gratitude to those donated blood, as it is critically valuable and donations have been suppressed by the pandemic and its aftermath. She noted the health department is once more distributing the masks provided by the masks.

She noted that they had said they would re-evaluate further opening today and make an announcement. She said that will not happen, as the county law department had advised they must consult the County Board of Health first, which will not meet until June 17. The meeting will be public. Regarding next phases, she said the data looks good at this point, but recommendations will be withheld until after the Board meeting.

Charity Menefee reviewed the benchmarks, reminding everyone that they watch for any statistical variation lasting three days over the last 14 days. The number of cases showed such a jump in the beginning of those 14 days, but she indicated they feel it is leveling off since. Regarding testing, and all other benchmarks, they are currently satisfied that the numbers are acceptable and the other lights will remain green. She noted that while the numbers of hospitalized patients is trending up, but continues to be low overall.


  • The governor announced nursing homes can allow visitors starting Monday. Is there any additional information on that? No.
  • Is there a need for the reopening task force? Can their task be accomplished by the Board of Health? That is up to the board of health.
  • Can you tell us about the process regarding phase three? The Board of Health will make that decision.
  • According to the graph regarding testing, the amount of time to obtain test results has increased. Is that a concern? It has increased, but not to a statistically significant amount of time.
  • When will the epidemiology staff be increased? There are four and they will not be increased other than bringing in help from the outside if they become overwhelmed.
  • We are bringing in additional contact tracing staff as needed. We are surpassing our 48 time frame goal at this time.
  • Have the masks changed or have they been deemed safe? They are the same. The chemical of concern has been cleared by the state as safe.
  • How many reopening phases are there? Three, though that could change with the Board of Health meeting.
  • Can you tell us more about the law department stating that the Board of Health must meet to make additional decisions? This is uncharted territory for all of us. Their legal interpretation of where we are is that the plans are policy documents and they must approve policy. I don’t know if they will approve them. This is up to them.