COVID-19: 7/17/2020 Update (Including Today’s Health Department Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 7.17.2020 (Source:
Worldwide Daily Cases 7.17.2020 (Source: Worldometers)

It’s Friday! I hope you make that mean something good in your world. I have realized that I have no concept of how many people are working a regular work week at this point, or how many are going to a place of business to do so. Has your world returned to a sort-of-normal flow? Are you still pretty much sheltering-in-place? Whatever your situation, please find some joy this weekend. It’s important that we have some break in our routine. Take a walk you haven’t taken. Make a picnic. Go for a ride. Some healthy distraction is a good thing.

International News:

As of this writing, 13,990,919 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 593,685 have died. About 8.3 million have recovered and there are currently about 5.1 million active cases around the world. Yesterday, there were 248,869 new cases added to the case total and 5,742 deaths.

The 248,869 cases added yesterday represent a new high for daily cases since the beginning of the pandemic. In the first 16 days of July, 13 of the daily totals would have been a record prior to this month. The seven-day average continues to soar, going up about 3,500 just from yesterday to today. The daily average for new cases is currently 221,948.

The same countries continue to dominate the new cases. The U.S. added about 30% of the world’s total new cases for the day and Brazil and India contributed about 35% together. The top countries with more than 10,000 new cases yesterday included the U.S. (73,388), Brazil (43,829), India (35,468) and South Africa (13,172).

Twenty-five countries reported more than 1,000 new cases. Nine of the countries are in south and central America. Spain has re-entered the top group, though in the lower reaches of the group, and is the lone European country in the list. Israel continues to rise after seeming to have gotten control of the spread of the virus. India, Colombia, Argentina and the Philippines stand out for the rate of their increases.

Worldwide Daily Deaths 7.17.2020 (Source:

The 5,742 deaths yesterday brings the seven-day moving average of deaths to 5,044, the highest it has been since May 12. The countries leading the world in daily deaths are some of the same that lead in new cases. Yesterday, the top four countries for deaths were Brazil (1,299), the U.S. (963), India (680) and Mexico (579). Global deaths have slowing risen since late May.

Shutdowns are spreading across India for a second time as the country becomes more embroiled with the virus. Boris Johnson has revealed his plan for a “return to normality” by November in the U.K. Chinese companies are offering vaccines prior to approval for some people. 1,000,000 minks in the Netherlands and Spain have been killed as a result of workers and animals testing positive.

U.S. Daily Cases 7.17.2020 (Source:

National News:

Since the beginning of the pandemic the U.S. has reported 3,695,025 cases of COVID-19 and 141,118 deaths from the illness. Yesterday, 73,388 Americans were diagnosed and 963 died from the illness. The number of new cases represents a new high. Prior to July, the most new cases in a single day came on June 30, with 46,075 cases. That number has been exceeded every day in July with the exception of July 5 when 46,036 new cases were reported. Our seven-day moving average moved upward by about 1700 overnight to 67,162. There are roughly 1.9 million active cases in the U.S.

Sixteen different states each reported 1,000 or more cases, yesterday. Just a few weeks ago, this number was generally around 3 each day. Nine states reported multiple thousands. These nine states include Florida (13,965), Texas (10,243), California (9,269), Georgia (3,441), Arizona 3,359), Tennessee (2,479), Louisiana (2,278), North Carolina (2,074) and Alabama (2,021). In addition to the seven southeastern states in the top nine states, other nearby states ranking highly included South Carolina (#10), Mississippi (#14) and Virginia (#20).

U.S. Daily Deaths 7.17.2020 (Source:

The 963 additional deaths reported yesterday continue a very slow trend of increases in the daily rate. This week marks the first time the U.S. has reported over 900 deaths for a total of three days since early June. The seven-day average of daily deaths, which had dropped as low as 516 on July 5, has now reached 761, similar to where it was on June 15.

Florida Governor DiSantis said the current outbreak there is the fault of the media because they didn’t discuss the virus as much during the protests and people relaxed. This comes after he previously said the media was stirring up hysteria by constantly predicting Florida would have a large outbreak, saying in May, “we’ve succeeded and I think that people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption.” This week the state reported four consecutive days with more than 100 deaths.

A second round of stimulus checks is looking more likely, though there are significant divisions over the form an economic package would take. A majority of states are now requiring masks in public, including some states, such as Alabama, which had previously resisted. Georgia is going the opposite direction, with Governor Kemp now suing the city of Atlanta to stop them from mandating masks, even while saying he encourages their usage.

Tennessee Daily Cases 7.17.2020 (Source:

State and Local News:

Yesterday, the state of Tennessee reported an additional 2,479 cases of COVID-19 to bring the total number to 71,540 since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of new cases was the second highest reported any day since the beginning of the pandemic, with the highest number having been reported on Monday of this week. The four-day moving average is now at 2,395, the highest it has been at any time. On June 1 the number was 469. On July 1 it was 1,286.

1,393 people were moved to the “recovered” category yesterday and 13 additional people died. The net increase to the state’s active cases for the day was 1,073, bringing the total number of active cases to 29,494. The total deaths now number 796.

An additional 63 people with the illness were hospitalized across the state yesterday, bringing the number of hospitalized COVID-19-positive patients to 985. An additional 451 hospitalized patients are pending.

Tennessee continues to test at a very high rate, testing about 26,000 people yesterday to bring the testing total to over 1.1 million. Unfortunately, as the graph below demonstrates, the rate of positive tests continues to rise, meaning we are testing behind the curve and we are not containing spread. The positive test result percentage has now risen to 9.2%, the highest it has been since early April, when the testing program was very small by comparison.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 7.17.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Locally, the new case numbers continue to be discouraging. A record 147 Knox County residents were diagnosed positive yesterday, bringing the total since the beginning to 2,053. The new high number exceeds the previous high, set only three days ago, by 25%. The 10 highest days since the beginning of the pandemic have all occurred withing the last 2 1/2 weeks. Prior to July, the daily high was 53, set on June 29. Just three weeks later we have nearly tripled that number.

There are now 1100 active cases in the county, which represents 54% of all the cases from the beginning. 44 people are currently hospitalized and there are no additional deaths, leaving that number at 17. There are 86 probable cases.

Knox County Daily Cases 7.17.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

In local news, all Knox County Public Libraries are now open. Food City will begin requiring masks starting next Thursday, joining a long list that now includes Walmart. The White House Task Force has recommended that 17 states, including Tennessee, roll back reopenings. Early voting begins today (please wear your mask). Parents of special education students continue to express concern regarding the education of their children under the new KCS plan.

Knox County Health Department News Briefing:

Dr. Buchanan began by thanking the team that tested 400 people yesterday while wearing full PPE in the heat. She said the KCHD is looking for alternative test sites to avoid having people wait in the heat. As a result, there will be no testing on Monday at KCHD.

She confirmed the above numbers, noting it is the largest single-day increase. She says they continue to hear people questioning whether masks will help. She said it requires mass adoption across the community. It will take time before we could see results even if there is wide support. She noted that case results today reflected tests from a week ago and pleaded with everyone who is tested, to act as if they are positive until they know otherwise.

Wearing a mask is one thing that we all can do that changes the direction of the case load and will allow businesses to reopen and the economy to move forward.


  • What is the percentage of new cases where staff is able to identify the source? We can have that later.
  • Are we concerned about the number of beds in hospitals? The capacity number looks slightly better at the moment. The hospitals continue to discuss how they can meet other needs as well as needs due to the pandemic.
  • Incubation time? Average 5 days, up to 14 days.
  • How many test results are taking 10 days or more? Not sure, but we can try to get that.
  • With a 10 day delay, doesn’t this mean people are finding out they are positive after they may already be considered recovered, right? Yes.
  • She said businesses should not be testing as a requirement for coming to work, they should be checking symptoms and temperatures. It slows test results for others.
  • We were told Catholic High was practicing a positive player and the KCHD confronted them. True? Cannot confirm that.
  • Clusters? No. Infections are occurring in homes, social gatherings, church, work, etc. It is around the community and is being spread. Please follow the five core actions wherever we are. Everyone must do so for us to stay open.
  • We work with the schools regularly.
  • Do you think the Knox County plan is adequate? It is based on the five core actions.
  • Knox County Schools said they look to the KCHD to determine if they need to go to code red and go all digital. What is the metric? They have their own set of metrics, just like the flu: Staff illness, student illness, etc.
  • Age and gender of victims yesterday? 81 Female and 84 Male
  • Have we received feedback from CDC? Yes, mostly notes from their visit, acknowledging concerns expressed.
  • 28 cases for teens and new cases for younger kids, any statement? There are no specific clusters we know of. We’re concerned about everyone, including children. We haven’t seen a lot of child illness from COVID-19, though we’ve read about inflammatory issues later.
  • A recent study said contact tracing after a long delay isn’t effective. Is that what is happening here with the 10 day delay? Yes, this is why people must isolate after a test until they know the results. The testing delay is a problem across the country.
  • KCS says they will notify families of exposure. Will the Health Department be involved? As we normally do.
  • Can we get the delay down? NCAA requires negative tests in the last three days to play. Answer: We need faster results in order to do our job.
  • Federal report says Knox County should use pool testing? I’m not sure we have the possibility to do pool testing at this time.
  • Is it a concern that 20,000 students will soon hit town? UT will work through issues regarding students.