COVID-19: 8/20/2020 Update (Including Today’s Health Department Briefing

Tennessee Daily Cases 8.20.2020 (Source:
Worldwide Daily Cases 8.20.2020 (Source:

Our family’s travel fantasies are running amok. We’ve gone from  talking about the first place we’d want to go when we can travel again, to what we miss most about travel, to ranking favorite trips from the past, and back again. A world condensed to a home or even to local excursions feels cloistered when you’ve learned to love travel. A worry free over-night or weekend trip would be so nice. But, then there is the worry. The best news I’ve read recently suggests that airline travel may be safer than we intuitively assume. I’ll hold that happy thought on the balcony as we watch planes fly overhead, wishing we were aboard, regardless of destination.

International News:

22,639,630 people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 792,196 have died of the illness. Almost 15.4 million have recovered and almost 6.5 million remain ill. Yesterday, an additional 272,021 cases were reported along with 6,671 deaths.

Case numbers remain in the relative tight range they’ve maintained since late July and the number from yesterday is roughly equivalent to July 27 or 28. The seven-day average dropped by about 1,300 from yesterday and sits at 254,986. It marks the fifth consecutive day of decreases.

Deaths also continue to drop very slightly. Yesterday’s 6,671 deaths is roughly 100 fewer than the same day a week earlier. Average daily deaths have declined for six consecutive days and now sit at 5,688 deaths each day. The recent high was just shy of 5,900. Countries reporting the most deaths yesterday included the U.S. (1,263), Brazil (1,170), India (980), and Mexico (750).

Worldwide Daily Deaths 8.20.2020 (Source:

The same four countries contributed the most cases to yesterday’s numbers as the day before: India (69,196), Brazil (48,541), the U.S. (44,957), and Colombia (13,056). Thirty countries around the world reported at least 1,000 new cases, including twelve in the Americas. France, Spain and Germany continue to see a new outbreak, with France and Spain each reporting over 3,000 new cases. The total for France was its highest daily number since May 6.

Brazil’s congress has over-ridden its president’s veto and instituted a national mask requirement. South Korea is struggling at the intersection of religion and COVID-19. Japan has seen almost triple the number of infections in its current wave of infections as it saw in the first, last March.

U.S. Daily Cases 8.20.2020 (Source:

National News:

5,717,825 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 176,729 have died from the illness. Almost 3.1 million have recovered and about 2.5 million remain ill. Yesterday, an additional 44,957 cases were reported and an additional 1,263 people died.

New cases, while still among the highest in the world, continue to rapidly decline. The 44,957 new cases yesterday compare to 54,385 the same day the previous week. Average new daily cases have declined to 47,936 from a peak of over 69,000 on July 23.

Deaths also continue to decline, but at a much slower rate. The average number of daily deaths has declined by about 80 over the last week and now sits at 1,030. Four states reported more than 100 deaths yesterday: Texas (219), Florida (174), California (164), and Arizona (105).

U.S. Daily Deaths 8.20.2020 (Source:

Nine states reported more than 1,000 new cases, yesterday, which compares to eleven a week ago. Of those, six reported multiple thousands: California (6,789), Texas (5,965), Florida (4,115), Georgia (2,305), Illinois (2,295), and Tennessee (2,022). Illinois, like several other mid-western states is seeing a resurgence, with yesterday’s total its second highest since May. Other southeastern states near the top included Mississippi (#7), Alabama (#8), North Carolina (#9), Louisiana (#12), South Carolina (#14), Virginia (#15), and Arkansas (#16).

An experimental drug is being tried in nursing homes, a practice that is not typical of drug trials. The agreement to let the study proceed comes as nursing home patients, who make up 1.2% of the U.S. population, have suffered 40% of the deaths from COVID-19. Movie theaters are opening up across the U.S. amid some question regarding the willingness of audiences. A third, very rapid response, antigen test has been approved for  use.

Tennessee Daily Cases 8.20.2020 (Source:

State and Local News:

As of yesterday afternoon, 137,800 Tennesseans had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 1,452 have died. 99,085 had recovered and 37,263 remained ill. 2,022 additional cases and 22 deaths were reported for the day. 88 people were hospitalized, moving that number over 6,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Over 34,000 tests were given, bringing that total to over 1.9 million. The state has also begun reporting daily positive test results rates and said the percentage yesterday was 7.24%. The Johns Hopkins graph has it slightly lower at 6.7%. Either is a significant improvement over previous numbers.

Tennessee Daily Tests and Positive Test Rate 8.20.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Active cases have dropped by about 1,000 in the state over the last seven days. Despite the additional hospitalizations, the number of COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized continues to drop, now sitting at 1,000 after being as high as 1,161 in recent weeks. There are an additional 194 pending cases. Daily deaths have risen over the last month and are currently at their highest daily average since the beginning of the pandemic, at 24 deaths per day.

Locally, the Knox County Health department reports 5,655 total cases and 52 total deaths. 3,599 people have recovered and 2,207 remain ill. Yesterday, an additional 127 cases were reported, and there were no additional deaths. The 127 cases is the highest single-day total in the last 13 days, but the recent trend has been downward. 43 Knox County residents are currently hospitalized, the highest number since July 27. There are 203 probable cases.

UT is reporting 105 active cases and 377 people in isolation. 97 of the active cases are students. Twenty of the students in isolation are there as a result of one off-campus party.

Knox County Daily Cases 8.20.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County Health Department Press Conference:

Dr. Buchanan led today’s briefing and expressed gratitude to professors and students at UT who are practicing the five core actions. She discussed having someone over to your house for repairs in order to remain safe. She said ask them upfront about their safety procedures and do not continue if they or you are ill. Make clear before they arrive that you expect them to wear a mask and you should do the same, as well as maintaining distance. Open windows, if possible, and clean surfaces after they leave.

She encouraged people to begin making plans to get a flu vaccine, as it is particularly important this year. She confirmed the above numbers. She discussed the benchmarks (see Board of Health report for details), noting that they remain unchanged from last week.


  • Is there a plan in place for KCS if we have a surge? Yes. Ask them for details.
  • Probable cases are listed, but we never learn the outcome. Why list them? The are treated like positive cases, with quarantined. They are moved to recovered when they recover.
  • UT has a notable increase in cases. Are they counted here? Yes, if they currently live here.
  • Case counts are trending down, but hospitalizations up. Why? Because of the delay between diagnosis and hospitalizations.
  • What steps should a family take if a family member is diagnosed? Quarantine after the last contact with the person for 14 days. They will be monitored daily. Quarantine means staying home completely.
  • Breakdown of severity of cases? Older individuals tend to be more severe. Otherwise severity is spread across all age groups. We are still learning about the interaction with COVID and other illnesses. Healthy people can become very ill and require hospitalization.
  • Out of the deaths, how many actually died of what the virus did to their body? The doctors who are seeing the patients are determining cause of death. We just report it.
  • What was the interaction with the Bearden football team and was there a delay in information being shared? We are working with the schools and getting out information as quickly as possible.
  • Could you speak to measures that will need to be sustained? The masks and the five core actions are helping. You can’t just take them away, as the risk still exists.
  • Can parents find out anything about cases at their schools? That is up to the schools.
  • Have we seen anyone get sick locally from an asymptomatic person? We’ll check on that detail.
  • It would be ideal if all local areas were following the same steps we are following locally.