COVID-19: 7.29.2020 Update (Including Today’s Health Department Briefing)

Knox County Daily Cases 7.29.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)
Worldwide Daily Cases 7.29.2020 (Source:

It’s mid-week, and I hope you are all safe and well. The simple math of expanding numbers of cases dictates that many of us now know, directly and indirectly, people who have contracted COVID-19. The first one is a bit shocking, or it was for me. Now I directly know three people who have had it or have it currently. Indirectly, I know some who have died (a friend’s father, another friend’s in-law). Here’s a mid-week wish for healing for those who have it and sympathy for those who have lost people they love.

International News:

As of this writing, there have been 16,969,310 total cases of COVID-19 reported around the world and 664,881 deaths attributed to the illness. Yesterday, there were 247,592 new cases and 5,589 deaths reported. Roughly 10.5 million people have recovered and about 5.8 million cases remain active. Case numbers are higher than a week ago (239,039), while deaths are slightly lower than a week ago (5,678).

The seven-day average for cases continues to rise across the world, with today’s average moving up by about 1,100 to 256,879. Before July, no singled day had produced 200,000 cases. Yesterday became the 23rd day in July above 200,000.

Worldwide Daily Deaths 7.29.2020 (Source:

While global deaths from the illness have slowly risen for over two months, yesterday’s 5,589 deaths is about 300 lower than the same day a week earlier. As a result, the seven-day moving average dropped by 35 to 5,665 deaths each day. As we hope the single-day, small drop portends a trend, it is worth noting that in the big picture, that average fell below 5,000 from mid-May to mid-July before going above 5,000 on July 12 and subsequently rising to its current level.

The countries fueling both the new cases and deaths continue to be largely the same as in recent days.

The top countries in cases yesterday were the U.S. (64,729), India (49,632), Brazil (41,169), Colombia (10,284) and South Africa (7,232). Colombia is notable as their number of new cases set a record yesterday and their cases and deaths are each rising rapidly. Their population, at about 50 million people, is also significantly smaller than the countries above them on the list. Deaths are currently led by the U.S. (1,266), Brazil (955) and India (776).

Twenty-three countries reported over 1,000 new cases. Nine of those countries are in Central and South America. Israel also set a new record for cases, yesterday, and has climbing cases and deaths. Spain was the only European country to report more than 1,000 new cases (1,828). The country, which was one of the hardest hit early in the  epidemic, peaking at 7,800 new cases per day on April 1, had gotten its average down to the low 300s for most of June, has seen steadily rising numbers since and is currently averaging just over 2,000 new cases each day.

U.S. Daily Cases 7.29.2020 (Source:

National News:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. has reported 4,516,453 cases of COVID-19 and 152,738 deaths have been attributed to the illness. About 2.2 million Americans have recovered and just under 2.2 million are currently ill. Yesterday an additional 64,729 cases were reported, along with 1,266 deaths. The number of cases is about 3,000 lower than a week ago and the seven-day average is now 67,063, having trailed off about a thousand since roughly leveling off in the last couple of weeks.

The 1,266 deaths reported yesterday is the most for a single day since May 27. After only reporting 1,000 or more deaths once on a single day over about a six-week period from June into July, we’ve crossed that number five of the last eight days. The current moving average for deaths is 976 per day, about where it was on June 4.

Worldwide Daily Deaths 7.29.2020 (Source:

The number of deaths has more-or-less risen since bottoming out on July 5 at 520. The current death totals are being driven by states with the worst recent outbreaks, four of which reported more that 100 deaths yesterday: Florida (186), California (169), Texas (121) and Arizona (104).

The states with the largest single day numbers continue, as with countries across the world, to be both heavily weighted at the top and broadly contributing to the totals. Seventeen states reported at least 1,000 new cases. Of those, six reported multiple thousands: Texas (10,698), Florida (9,230), California (7,994), Georgia (4,209), Tennessee (2,555), and Arizona (2,107). Other southeastern states near the top include North Carolina (#7), South Carolina (#8), Mississippi (#10), Alabama (#12), Louisiana (#14) and Virginia (#18).

Nationally, numbers of deaths, cases, and hospitalizations have been called into question since the beginning of the pandemic. Over-counting, under-counting, misinterpreting, and out-right fraud have been alleged to inflate and deflate the numbers. Those allegations continue from both the left and the right and I’ve generally assumed that any of the above was on the fringes and was probably due to reasons other than deliberate manipulation.

There are some current disruptions worth mentioning. While some on the left have feared numbers would be manipulated once the HHS took over the national reporting and the CDC was sidelined, a group I trust with the Atlantic has concluded that the current case numbers seem sound, even though there has been a sudden leveling-off of cases in the two weeks since the HHS took over. They do, however, say there is a mess with hospital numbers due to hospitals and states struggling with the new system – nothing nefarious.

On my level, I think what I am seeing is systems struggling to keep up. The state of Tennessee data is being reported late most days. The graph you usually see below had to be replaced today because the state website has still not updated the graph. For that reason, I will use the local graph on my FB links, and let’s count down the minutes until someone there accuses me of changing graphs to achieve some dastardly deception.

Additionally, Johns Hopkins did not update the Tennessee testing graph I use every day with positive test result rates, I assume because they did not get the data from the state in time to do so. Again, I assume it is all benign until it becomes obvious otherwise. It is unfortunate, but a many systems and institutions are struggling right now to keep up with the situation.

Politics has entered the fray, once more, as President Trump and his son tweeted a video claiming that masks do not help and that hydroxychloroquine will “cure” COVID-19, both claims dismissed by the president’s own experts. The video was taken down by twitter and Don, Jr.’s account was temporarily suspended. Most of the group in the video met with Vice President Pence today.

Stella Immanuel, the most prominent person in the video, whom President Trump yesterday called, “an important voice,” is a doctor and a pastor. According to a BBC profile:

Some of her other claims include blaming medical conditions on witches and demons – a common enough belief among some evangelical Christians – though she says they have sex with people in a dream world.

“They turn into a woman and then they sleep with the man and collect his sperm… then they turn into the man and they sleep with a man and deposit the sperm and reproduce more of themselves,” she said during a sermon in 2013.

Her sermons are available on Youtube. The video was first posted by Brietbart.

Tennessee Daily Cases 7.29.2020 (Source: Worldometers)

State and Local News:

To date, there have been 99,044 cases of COVID-19 and 999 associated deaths. Yesterday, the state reported 2,555 additional cases and 21 additional deaths. 2,521 people were counted as recovered, bringing that total to 59,760. The active case net for the day was 13, a reflection of the fact that our recoveries are now reflecting the large number of cases from two weeks ago. The total current active case number is 38,285.

92 additional people were hospitalized across the state, yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 4,372 and the current total of hospitalized COVID-19 positive Tennesseans to 1,113. The state reported an additional 25 K tests yesterday, but I do not have access to positive test result rates.

Locally, the Knox County Health Department is reporting 161 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among Knox County residents, bringing the pandemic total to 3,533. 1,539 people have recovered and our current active case number is 1,967, up from 1,392 a week ago.

38 Knox County residents are currently hospitalized. This number is lower than it had been running and I asked the health department why this and the total number dropped. I was told they had identified people who were COVID-19 positive, had visited and been treated in an emergency room, but had been sent home. Previously, they were mistakenly included in hospitalizations and now they are not. It made me feel, once again, positive about local attempts to give as accurate data as possible.

There was an additional death reported today, though it occurred over the weekend, bringing that total to 27. There are 148 probable cases.

The benchmarks were updated today and they all maintained the same status as before. I give more detail below. In encouraging news, the number of available beds, ICU beds and ventilators improved over the last week.


Knox County Daily Cases 7.29.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County Health Department Briefing:

Charity Menefee chaired the meeting expressing gratitude to the new team members who are joining to help with the ongoing work. She reminded everyone of the Knox County Board of Health Meeting tonight and confirmed the above numbers.

She reviewed the benchmarks. Each of them stayed the same as last week. She reminded that the traffic lights are moved depending on whether there are statistical shifts in the last two weeks.

The benchmark for new cases continues at red due to increased cases at a statistically significant level. She said they hope that masks begin helping. She said for this to work, everyone should wear a mask in public space and even at home if with someone who does not live there. It won’t work if some of us do it some of the time.

For testing, the light remains yellow. They feel trends are improving with more testing and shorter return time, but it still isn’t what they want. She said the KCHD is seeing quicker turnaround times since adding a new lab.

For public health, the light is remaining green, as they continue to be able to do contact tracing within 24 hours of getting a test result. She said it is getting harder.

For hospital capacity, they light remains yellow. They are able to handle the current level, though they are concerned. There have been significant jumps in bed and ICU bed usage, but still within manageable levels.

The fifth benchmark for deaths remains red, as deaths continue to mount.


  • When we started re-opening you said you knew that we’d see increases, but would attempt to reach a plateau. We haven’t plateaued. If we plateau over 100, would that be acceptable? Ideally we want to plateau, then drop. We’ll look at what the hospitals can manage.
  • On the importance of vaccines: Please vaccinate your kids for other illnesses and get a flu shot when those are offered so we don’t stress the symptoms from those things.
  • How does the HD feel about Dr. Birx recommendations? We support the five core actions and the Board of Health would decide on any closures.
  • Rates are rising here, but faster in some counties around us and it impacts us all. We must change our behavior for the next several months.
  • It appears bed availability is stable even with an increase in COVID-19 patients. Are they cutting back on other hospitalizations? Not sure, but they always shuffle around to make room as needed.
  • We are concerned about the high rate and we are concerned about what comes next.
  • How would you rate response level to mask wearing in Knox County A – F? I’m seeing more people wearing masks. Our biggest concern is people not practicing guidelines at private gatherings like bbqs and at sporting events, around people they feel comfortable with.
  • Nashville is improving. Does that give you hope? Yes. When there is more buy-in, it helps.
  • False positives? It’s a complicated issue. If you test positive you are counted and contact tracing is done just to be safe.
  • If a staff person within a school tests positive, should people with direct contact quarantine for 14 days (CDC recommended guideline)? Yes, that is our recommendation.