Happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone. Because of the holiday, there is no Knox County Health Department briefing. It’s a good weekend to think about what we mean when we say we love America. If we love its freedoms, then we must respect other people’s freedom. If we love its people, we need to remember they come in all kinds of varieties and loving only the ones like ourselves isn’t truly loving America. Celebrations for many of us will be different this year. Please celebrate safely.
There are, as of this writing, 11,035,809 confirmed and reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Moving from 10,000,000 past 11,000,000 took six days. 208,864 new cases were added yesterday, marking a second consecutive day for a new high single-day number. There are more than 4.3 million active cases in the world at this time.
Worldwide confirmed and reported deaths now total 525,248, with 5,155 new deaths reported yesterday. For the last seven days, the average number of deaths each day has been around 4,500. This is down slightly from a week ago, but roughly the same as it has been since late May. Brazil led the world yesterday with 1,277 deaths reported and was followed by Mexico (741) and the U.S. (687).
A combination of better protection for vulnerable populations, improved treatment and understanding of the disease, fewer health care systems currently overwhelmed and a young-skewing patient profile all seem to be helping the trend not to follow that of new cases. The hope is that this can be maintained in the face of dramatically spiking caseloads.
The worst level of spread in the world continues to be the United States, which led the world in new cases, once more. The three countries at the top, once again, contributed about 60% of the new cases: the U.S. (57,236), Brazil (47,984) and India (21,948). The ranking of the three would probably be different if anyone knew the real extent of the disease in either Brazil or India. The U.S. has tested about six times more of its citizens per capita than Brazil and almost seventeen times more than India.
A number of other countries continue to see significant and twenty-two different countries contributed at least 1,000 new cases to the total. Fifteen countries had over 2,000 new cases. Nine of the countries are in the Americas, five are in the Middle East and four are in Southeast Asia. Countries with some of the worst rates of increase, though perhaps smaller total numbers than others, include South Africa, Colombia, Argentina, Iraq and Bolivia.
There are currently 2,854,456 reported and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. Yesterday, the U.S. reported an additional 57,232 cases, breaking the single-day record from the day before by over 10%. There are currently 1,530,947 active cases in the country.
There have been 131,666 American deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, with 687 reported yesterday. This number has continued to decline, likely due to the factors listed above in the “International” section. The U.S. decline has been more precipitous and persistent than the international decline and it now sits at an average of 564, the lowest the seven-day average has been since March 30.
Amid the dramatically increasing case numbers, some governors who had previously been slowest to close their economies and fastest to open them, are now backtracking. Both Arizona Governor Ducey and Texas Governor Abbott have issued stricter orders, reversing previously loosened rules as the two states spiral out of control with new cases. Governor Ducey ordered the re-closing of bars, gyms, clubs and pools. Some owners say they will defy the order and have sued. Governor Abbot has issued a state-wide order that masks must be worn in public in counties with more than 20 cases.
Of personal interest to me, my extremely conservative hometown of Mobile, Alabama just did the same, following the lead of other cities in the state. These more conservative spots have gone beyond our indoor-mask requirement. It is also an interesting contrast that states like Alabama give their cities leeway to run themselves whereas our state stripped that control from the beginning of the epidemic.
The number of states reporting high numbers continues to grow. When I began reporting the number of states with 1,000 or more cases for a day, that generally resulted in two or three states each day included on that list. Yesterday, having a thousand new cases for the day didn’t even guarantee a spot in the top ten (New York, #11, 1,035 cases).
Additionally, a category of “over 1,000” hardly speaks to the 10,000+ days that some states are experiencing. If Florida was a separate country, it would have ranked third in the world for most new cases, yesterday.
Here are the states with 1,000 or more cases yesterday: Florida (10,109), California (9,352), Texas (7,535), Georgia (3,472), Arizona (3,333), North Carolina (1,855), South Carolina (1,782), Tennessee (1,575), Louisiana (1,383), Alabama (1,149) and New York (1,035). In addition to the eight southern states in the top ten, Arkansas (#12) and Mississippi (#13) were also in the top twenty. Please be aware as you travel regionally, that ten of the hardest hit thirteen states are our neighbors and ourselves.
Fox News is reporting that Vice President Pence’s trip to Arizona was delayed after Secret Service agents tested positive. It follows a similar outbreak among secret service agents and campaign staffers who tested positive after helping set up the Tulsa rally. A new front in the debate regarding in-person classes is emerging, with many professors, who are often older, expressing reluctance to return to the classroom. The other side of the classroom debate is the very real struggle so many parents are feeling as they try to work and care for children.
State and Local News:
The state of Tennessee reported 1,575 new cases yesterday to bring the pandemic total to 46,890. The increase in cases this week will be the largest since the beginning of the pandemic. The graph above, however, contains a slight error. It reflects our current 4-day average as 1680, which is inaccurate as one of those days represents two days worth of data. We don’t know the break down for those two days, so the best we could do is calculate a five-day average, which would be 1,344.
This would still be the highest moving-average since we began tracking. There will be a sharp drop (assuming cases don’t shoot up to unprecedented numbers today), but that will only indicate the movement of that two day number off the four-day cycle.
655 people were moved into the “recovered” category yesterday and there were an additional 11 deaths. The net leaves us with an increase of about 900 active cases day-over-day, to give us a total of 17,332 currently active cases in the state. The current total deaths are now 620. Sixty additional people were hospitalized across the state and over 20,000 were tested, bringing the total tested to almost 840,000. We have closed the gap in the last four days with numbers of tests needed and our positive result rate has dropped to 8.0% from 8.7%. The goal is to remain below 5%.
Locally, the Knox County Health Department is reporting 46 new cases. This follows 70 yesterday (a record) and 50 the day before. The 252 cases added this week, with one day yet to be reported has surpassed last week’s record number by 25%. About 42% of our total cases have been added in the last two weeks.
As a result of the above, the total number of active cases continues to rise rapidly and now sits at 364. Two weeks ago today, that number was 106, which seemed high at the time. The number hospitalized remained stable overnight at 14 Knox County residents and there were no additional deaths from the virus. There are 28 probable cases.