COVID-19: 8/18/2020 Update (Including Today’s Health Department Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 8.18.2020 (Source:
Worldwide Daily Cases 8.18.2020 (Source:

A little coolness in the air last evening and this morning says that summer is waning, though it won’t give up without a fight. The SEC announced football schedules yesterday, hoping this fall will be modestly normal. I continue to be startled by how fast time has seemed to pass (in some ways, not as much in others). I love the fall and life will be better when we get there, if I can just sit outside and enjoy a bit of crisp air on my skin. I hope fall brings good news all around.

International News:

22,112,739 people have been reported to have contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 778,522 have died of the illness. Over 14.8 million people have recovered and almost 6.5 million remain ill. Yesterday, an additional 198,535 cases were reported and 4,289 people died.

A day after reporting the smallest number of new cases worldwide since August 3rd, the number of new cases dropped again, this time by about 14,000 to the lowest number since July 13th, the last time fewer than 200,000 cases were reported for a single day. The seven-day moving average continues in the same range where it has recently held, but it drops by 1,400 to 259,042 cases per day.

The 4,289 deaths also mark the lowest number of deaths since July 27th. Like worldwide cases, the number has plateaued in a relatively narrow range recently and the average currently sits at 5,709 deaths per day, down from a recent peak of 5,871. Countries leading deaths, yesterday, included India (880), Brazil (775) and the U.S. (589).

Worldwide Daily Deaths 8.18.2020 (Source:

Three countries topped 10,000 new cases yesterday: India (54,288), the U.S. (40,612) and Brazil (23,038). Twenty-five different countries reported at least 1,000 new cases. Of the 25, seven are Latin American countries. Spain, Israel and Germany are notable for their presence after dramatically lowering their numbers after a first wave. Iraq is a country of concern as cases there ramp up quickly.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in France as the virus re-emerges. Here’s a broader look at nineteen European countries which are currently concerned about a re-emergence of cases. In a strange foray into the global pandemic, President Trump called out New Zealand yesterday, as a country touted early for success, but now having a “big surge.” It is strange because New Zealand has reported a total of 22 deaths in a country of 5 million, or 4 deaths per million, whereas the U.S. has reported about 174,000 deaths or 525 deaths per million.

U.S. Daily Cases 8.18.2020 (Source:

National News:

5,621,396 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 174,076 have died of the illness. Almost 3 million have recovered and about 2.5 million are currently ill. Yesterday, an additional 40,612 cases and 589 deaths were reported.

The number of new cases reflected a drop over over 9,000 cases from the same day the previous week. The reasons for the drop include a drop in the positivity rate (percentage testing positive) from 7.3% to 6.6%, which is very good news. Additionally, however, the number of tests reported continues to decline. A week earlier, roughly 722,000 tests were reported vs. about 652,000 for yesterday, a drop of about 9.7%. The seven-day average, continuing to drop, now sits at 50,800 cases per day.

Deaths continue to remain virtually unchanged, though they have inched up slightly in recent weeks. Today’s seven-day average is up three from yesterday to 1,068 Americans dying daily. The three states leading in deaths continue to far out-pace the others: Texas (117), California (99) and Florida (83).

U.S. Daily Deaths 8.18.2020 (Source:

The number of states reporting more than 1,000 new cases has dropped to eight, with three reporting multiple thousands: California (6,925), Texas (6,446) and Florida (2,678). Other southeastern states ranking high on the list yesterday included Georgia (#5), Tennessee (#8), Virginia (#10), Alabama (#15), and Louisiana (#16). Seven mid-western states have entered or re-entered the top twenty.

The University of North Carolina called off in-person classes after 130 cases were reported, including clusters from dorms, apartments and fraternities. Nearly 600 Miami-Dade public school employees have tested positive. An improved saliva-based test may help ease some of our testing crunch and yield faster results.

Tennessee Daily Cases 8.18.2020 (Source:

State and Local News:

A total of 134,744 Tennesseans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 1,387 have died of the illness. 94,812 have recovered, leaving the current active total at 38,545. Yesterday, 1,036 new cases were reported, as well as 21 deaths and 34 hospitalizations.

The 1,036 was a dramatic drop from the day before, at which point 1,961 cases were reported. For readers who have tuned into the conversation for the last week, you might guess there was a drop in day-over-day testing.  You would be correct. The 47% drop in new cases came as testing dropped by 50.1%, from 27,582 to 13,768. The positive result rate remained unchanged at 7.6%.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 8.18.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

The best news in the state may be the leveling off in hospitalizations. Today’s number is slightly higher than yesterday, at 1,022. The number has been roughly around 1,000 for a month. 340 COVID-19 positive patients are in ICUs and 163 are on ventilators. These numbers have also remained relatively stable for a month.

The Knox County Health Department is reporting pandemic totals of 5,433 cases and 51 deaths. 3,384 patients have recovered and 2,251 remain ill. A total of 236 have been hospitalized at some point and 38 COVID-19 positive Knox County residents are currently hospitalized. Today’s new cases totaled 54 and there was one additional death. There are 203 probable cases. Today’s 54 cases is the lowest since July 13 (though it is the same as August 4).

Knox County Daily Cases 8.18.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County Health Department Briefing:

Dr. Buchanan chaired today’s meeting and expressed gratitude to families as the prepare for the new school year and make the best decisions for their families. She said the school plans are good, but they also depend on families to follow the five core actions outside of school.

She addressed how to safely fill up with gas. She said use a sanitizing wipe to handle the pump, use hand sanitizer afterwards and wash your hands as soon as possible. If you enter the convenience store, please wear your mask and keep your distance.

Testing next week will be M-W-F at an alternate site (didn’t catch it – check the website). She noted that benchmarks will be updated tomorrow and the Board of Health will meet tomorrow night. She confirmed the above numbers.


  • How is Knox County tracking teacher/student exposure? It is a joint process. They are all counted in the county numbers. The Health Department is doing initial interviews. They will not be tracked separately.
  • Knox County Schools are following CDC recommendations: Someone in a home with a confirmed cases quarantines for 14 days after the case is finished with 10 days – meaning it could total 24 days! (This is different from what I’ve understood.) It is the last contact. If the exposed people can go elsewhere to isolate, that starts the last day of exposure.
  • Can you explain the importance of the 24 days? The importance for all quarantines is to break the chain of transmission. The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days. A negative test during that period does not matter.
  • Death today 74 year old female, yesterday, a 66 year old female.
  • She believes the mask mandate has helped, though she said the leveling off is evidence, though there could be other variables. She pleaded with everyone to continue the five core actions or she said the numbers will go back up.
  • Complaints of violations of the mask order have declined.
  • For an essential worker to return to work after exposure, they must wear a mask.
  • For many in poverty – with no options for separating during quarantine – an additional hardship is the 24 day quarantine.
  • Are teachers at a higher risk? We are all at risk. It is throughout our community. Teachers, staff and children need to be masked.
  • Are there enough people to do contact tracing when school opens? It will be challenging, but the public schools and UT have their own teams to help and staffing has been increased to deal with the tracing.
  • What mile of marathon are we on? Probably not half-way point. We’ve slowed down, but not dropped.
  • CDC says there are preferences between different sorts of masks, but any covering is better than no covering.
  • Please use reliable websites. She recommended the WHO’s “Mythbusters” list on their website.