COVID-19: 8/7/2020 Update (Including Health Department Briefing)

Worldwide Daily Cases 8.7.2020 (Source: Worldometers.com)

It’s Friday and I hope you all find a way to make your weekend a good one. We’re all stressed, worried, frustrated or some combination of each of those. It’s easy right now for that toxic stew to brew until it bubbles over. I know my patience is wearing more thin. Support each other. Be kind even to those who disagree. “Owning” somebody in a FB argument doesn’t really make any of us better in the end. Let’s be better, right?

International News:

19,318,209 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 718,751 people have died of the illness, according to our best numbers. Just over 12.4 million people have recovered and about 6.2 million people remain ill. Yesterday, an additional 281,232 cases were diagnosed and 6,453 people died.

The 281,232 new cases yesterday compares to 287,063 from a week earlier, continuing the slight downward trend in global cases which started about a week ago. The seven-day moving average is now 254,614, down from a peak of just over 260,000 new cases per day. The drop continues to be fueled largely by the drop in U.S. cases.

Worldwide Daily Deaths 8.7.2020 (Source: Worldometers.com)

The 6,453 deaths yesterday compares to 6,427 deaths a week ago and continues the extremely slow incline in that statistic. The seven-day average for deaths is now 5,797, identical to yesterday’s average. The number was about 30 higher two days ago, so that’s without increasing. The same four countries contributed the largest share of yesterday’s reported deaths: Brazil (1,226), the U.S. (1,203), India (899) and Mexico (829). After these four comes a large drop-off.

The same four countries once again reported the most cases and India now seems established as the world leader in new cases: India (62,170), the U.S. (58,611), Brazil (54,801), and Colombia (11,996). Twenty-nine countries reported at least 1,000 new cases. Spain, Israel, Japan, France and Germany remain in the top group after each dropped out for a long period.

Africa’s struggles with coronavirus are uneven, with Libya, Tunisia and Algeria emerging as a concerns. India has surpassed 2,000,000 cases and its health workers have gone on strike over wages and protective equipment. Almost everyone in the U.K. is wearing a mask outside their home, with the number put at around 96%.

U.S. Daily Cases 8.7.2020 (Source: Worldometers.com)

National News:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,039,978 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 162,896 have died. Almost 2.6 million have recovered and about 2.3 million have active cases of the illness. Active cases are up by about 100,000 over a one week period. Yesterday, the U.S. reported 58,611 new cases and 1,203 deaths.

Yesterday’s number of new cases is almost 10,000 fewer than the same day last week, continuing the sharp downward trend in reported new cases. The average is now 56,599, down from a high of 69,190 just 13 days earlier. The average is now down to levels last seen in early July.

U.S. Daily Deaths 8.7.2020 (Source: Worldometers.com)

The death trend is less pronounced, but appears to be bending downward, as well. The 1,203 deaths yesterday compares to 1,465 deaths a week ago, which is encouraging. The seven-day average of deaths dropped to 1,070 from 1,107 the previous day. A week ago the average was 1,058, but it subsequently rose to 1,129 for two days. It’s early to call this change a trend. The three states leading the number of deaths reported yesterday included Texas (236), California (149) and Florida (120).

Fourteen different states reported at least 1,000 new cases and five reported multiple thousands: California (8,505), Florida (7,650), Texas (7,630), Georgia (3,182) and Tennessee (2,252). Other southeastern states near the top for new cases yesterday include Alabama (#7), North Carolina (#8), South Carolina (#10), Louisiana (#11), Mississippi (#15) and Virginia (#20).

The economic fallout continues from the pandemic and the response and not all of the news is as dire as feared. The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July and the jobless rate fell to 10.2%. At the same time, with benefits not currently extended and rent protections removed, large-scale evictions are feared as 28,000,000 Americans face the possibility. A Georgia student was suspended after taking a photograph of a crowded hallway at her high school in which few students appear to be masked and posting it to social media. A South Dakota motorcycle rally set for nine days starting next week expects 250,000 people to gather, even though the majority of the town opposes it due to concerns over spreading the virus.

Tennessee Daily Cases 8.7.2020 (Source: TN.gov)

State and Local News:

116,350 Tennesseans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 1,186 have died from the illness. 77,588 have recovered and 37,606 people remain ill. The number of active cases is up slightly from yesterday and is nearly identical to last week on the same day (37,604). Yesterday, Tennessee reported 2,252 new cases and 42 deaths.

The new case number caused the four-day average to move up slightly, to 1,681 cases per day. The increase broke a six-day streak of dropping averages. Paralleling the U.S. numbers, the average number of cases is now roughly where that average was at the beginning of July.

The 42 deaths reported yesterday represent a new single-day high for the state, topping the 37 deaths reported on July 23. As a result, the seven-day moving average of deaths in the state has now moved above 20 for the first time after reaching 22.

108 additional people were hospitalized yesterday, bringing that total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 5,109. The net of currently hospitalized COVID-19 positive Tennesseans dropped, however, to a total of 1,082. The number has remained in a relatively tight range for the last two weeks, with the number two weeks ago reported as 1,095.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 8.7.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Testing numbers reported yesterday indicated about 23 thousand were tested and the total number has risen to about 1.63 million. While 23 thousand is a large number, the graph above shows a recent reduction in testing. A week ago yesterday, 24.5 thousand were tested and a week before that, the number was 32 thousand. Interestingly, the reported positive test result rate has not risen with the reduction in testing, which would be the expected outcome. Is more testing being done, but negative test results are not being reported as fast? It could explain the drop in tests and the stabilization in rate.

Locally, Knox County Health Department is reporting 129 new cases as we continue to daily bounce on either side of 100. The total since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 4500 cases. 2,418 people have recovered and 2,182 remain ill. The number of active cases has stabilized in the low 2000s for the last week.

There have been 211 Knox County residents hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic, with two being added to that number since yesterday. At the same time, the number of currently hospitalized Knox County residents dropped by roughly 50% overnight from 33 to 16, meaning either some people were found not to be Knox County residents or nineteen people were discharged yesterday. See the first question below for the response.

No Knox County residents died yesterday, leaving that total number at 42. I submitted a question to the health department yesterday regarding the apparent reassignment of age groups to some of those who have died. They confirmed they had shifted some after reviews indicated they had been misplaced. The ages and genders of the two people who died yesterday indicated a 29-year-old male and a 56-year-old female had died.

Knox County Daily Cases 8.7.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County Health Department Briefing:

Dr. Buchanan chaired the meeting today thanking the W.I.C. workers for their recent event focusing on breast-feeding. She gave another example of how to hold a bridal shower safely. She mentioned drive-through showers and virtual bridal showers. She said as long as people are spaced and masks are worn. Outside is better. Risk is related to distance, length of time and number of people.

Testing is continuing and she noted that some days the line may have to be cut off early in order to get the results back in a timely manner. She confirmed the above numbers. She spoke about contact tracing, noting they do this on many kinds of illnesses. When a positive result is shared with the Health Department, contact is attempted within 24 hours and the person is asked where they’ve been and who they’ve contacted. The goal is to trace to those contacts within 48 hours.

Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for 10 minutes when they were active. The staff is trained to ask the proper questions and to gather useful data. She also noted that if the information is not provided accurately they can’t effective follow up.

Questions:

  • The number of hospitalizations has suddenly dropped? It is correct that there are now 16. It is a great question for the hospital.
  • Did the health department watch polling places? No, we helped develop the plan.
  • Do you need applicants for contact tracing? We are working with staffing agencies. She said they would provide those links.
  • Have we turned a corner? It is too early to say. This is not the time to ease up. Please continue doing the five core actions. It is the only way to continue the direction the numbers are going. It is too early to call it a trend.
  • Should everyone have an oxygen meter? Not necessarily.
  • Any update on conversations with the schools? Does moving the start date back help? We are talking to them daily. We provided guidance and then make their own decisions.
  • Update on clusters? We have a database access now and will have that for everyone on Monday.
  • Have you been in contact with bar owners? How is the change being received? We haven’t had complaints.
  • How has testing demand changed recently? It varies from day-to-day. We are going to be able to return to not taking insurance information which will speed up the process.
  • What will the flu vaccine process be when school starts? It will take some changes because they are usually crowded in hallways and we’ll have to adjust. It is very important. We have to get students back to schools first.
  • How are you and your staff holding up? OK. We are now trying to give people some time off, as possible.
  • Was the public forum helpful? I think it went well. It is always good to hear from the people we serve.
  • COVID-19 and Flu have similar symptoms. How will you handle cases at schools? Someone who is actively is ill needs to stay home or go home. The five core actions work for both COVID-19 and Flu.

Comments

  1. John - Stuart says

    Once again, excellent reporting, Alan. Many of us are better informed by, and indebted to, your journalistic skills. Take care of yourself, too 🙂

  2. Bob Fischer says

    While too soon to make a definitive judgement, it does not appear, based a an initial survey of bars Thursday night, that bar and restaurant owners are up to the task of policing themselves. The vast majority of bars/ restaurants were open and serving alcohol at 11:15 last night. Our community response to this crisis has been nothing short of shameful.

  3. Pamela Schoenewaldt says

    I’m wondering how the “recovered” statistic is determined. A friend in an adjoining county is on the mend from Covid after nearly 3 weeks. Her doctor notified her that she was positive, told her to take care of herself, and then nothing, no more calls. Is the assumption that if someone isn’t reported dead, that person is covered?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Yes, essentially. The idea is that ten days after symptoms appear, the illness has run its course unless you still have symptoms, in which case you should be symptom free for 24 hours. It has been somewhat of a moving target.

  4. I continue to believe that the Health Department is doing a bang-up job given the attitude they have to deal with from (lack of) law enforcement and the belligerence of TOO many businesses and people out without masks and/or distancing. God knows if they ever wash their hands, even before this.

    I’m totally over the whiny bar owners and will just leave it at that and my thoughts that they need to innovate, not go against science and common sense. As the Health Dept. said, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO LET UP.

    Alan, can’t thank you enough for the expansive daily updates. Both you and the health dept. need to rest.

  5. publicspeaker says

    Wondering if it would be possible to ask the good Dr. Buchanan to keep her voice projection up during an entire sentence as she speaks.

    She consistently drops the last few words or phrase(s) in volume and clarity in each sentence when she speaks. We lose the last part of the thought as a result. The microphone is located many inches away from her mouth, exacerbating the problem.

    Her coworkers & visiting speakers (and even the person running the Q&A session) seem to be able to consistently project and be heard easily.

    Perhaps some rehearsal or tutoring in public speaking is in order.

  6. About those virtual showers: a niece is expecting a baby, and her sister-in-law set up a virtual shower, soliciting 10-second-or-less videos from friends and family to show and give to the parents. Just greetings, no oohs and aahs after each gift was opened (gifts were sent or bought online) and no stupid games. As a woman, I think virtual showers are a GREAT idea!

  7. Jon Humber says

    KnoxvilleUrbanGuy, thanks for your reporting. I haven’t been able to find the contact tracing staffing links anywhere. Do you have (or can you share when you get) more info yet on that?

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