Yesterday, the state of Tennessee reported an additional 1,818 Tennesseans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 7 have died, bringing the pandemic total to 154,933 cases and 1,754 deaths. 116,864 people have recovered, including 2,095 yesterday, leaving an active caseload of 36,315. 38 additional people were hospitalized, bringing the total to 6,878 since the beginning of the pandemic.
New cases, which are now averaging 1,439 continue to track testing to a significant degree, although there is a shift in the positive test result percentage that is alarming. The state reported on about 12,000 tests yesterday, low by not-to-distant standards, but the reported number of positive cases was high because the positive test result rate as reported by the state was 15.7%.
It ran around 8% to 9% for months, dropped to nearly 5% recently, and then shot up to current levels. The Johns Hopkins data, which includes all tests, but either uses a different formula or trails the state data, is also rising, but is currently reporting 6.4%. That rate isn’t great, but obviously, is much better. It is clearly a source of concern.
I’ve included the chart illustrating daily deaths and the seven-day moving average for those. While they vary widely from day-to-day, the average remains in the twenties, where it has remained since mid-August, and currently sits at 24. Total current hospitalizations of COVID-positive Tennesseans, trending downward for the last months, have risen slightly for the last two days to 903 hospitalized, 326 in ICU and 156 on ventilators. Pending cases have also dropped and now sit at 134.
Knox County News and Health Department Briefing:
The Knox County Health Department reported 91 additional residents have been diagnosed, bringing the pandemic total in the county to 6,642. 4,502 residents have recovered, while 2,136 remain actively ill. No additional deaths were reported overnight and the total number of deaths remains at 58.
The are 2,316 active cases and 235 probable cases. There are 45 Knox County COVID-positive hospital patients, bringing the pandemic total hospitalized to 266. The number of active cases is the second highest it has been at any point during the pandemic, behind only August 17 when it was larger by 2. The number of hospitalizations have crept upward and two of the last three days match the previous high set on July 27 (as best my records can tell me).
Dr. Buchanan led today’s press conference. She confirmed the above numbers. She discussed how to keep family and friends safe at a wedding, starting with staying home if ill, remaining at least 6 feet away from others, wear a mask and choose a seat based on space from others. Wash hands after touching any shared surfaces.
Testing is continuing at the Jacob’s Building at Chilhowee Park for the rest of the week.
Regarding COVID-19 deaths that doctors and medical examiners make the determination of cause of death. A majority of deaths include people who have other co-morbidities. Some of them may be listed alongside COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death. Respiratory failure, as an example can be listed, while COVID-19 can contribute. Only deaths with COVID-19 as a contributed factor is included and all are reviewed at the state level. If they didn’t contract
If a teacher is considered essential, do they go to work if exposed? It would be true, but they are not considered essential, here.
We are hearing KCHD switched lab providers again? Yes, and there has been an improvement to 48 hours turn-around time.
Labor Day is next week. What is your guidance for gatherings? Maintain the five core actions regardless how close you are to the people involved. Please stay outside and keep family units together.
If someone tests positive in the classroom is everyone in the classroom considered to be a contact? Not necessarily. If they have maintained spacing, it may not be needed.
Did the move away from the Jacob’s Building change the response to testing? We’ll have to check.
This week marks six-months since we started the battle with the illness. What will it look like in six months? It depends on some variables, like a vaccine. We could still see recommendations for masks and distance. With no vaccine, it will not look different.
Data will be released regarding increases in cases after previous holidays locally.
Have you discussed sorority cases with UT? We work closely with them and knew there were inherent risks.
UT News and Briefing:
The University of Tennessee is reporting a slight decrease in active cases, with 198 active cases among the UT community, down from yesterday’s 210. 221 students and staff have recovered. Isolations and quarantines, however, continue to grow, with 1,045 reported today as compared to 983 yesterday. 558 students are in quarantine off campus, and 423 are in quarantine on campus. 64 employees are currently quarantined. No additional clusters were identified.
Chancellor Plowman began by thanking students who are working to keep the pandemic at bay. The briefing included a focus on student support. She was joined by several other UTK officials.
Dr. Plowman reminded viewers that the active cases today lag active numbers. She said she was particularly please with the very low numbers of staff who are currently ill. She noted that most of the students who are self-isolating live off campus or have returned home. She noted the two additional clusters (at sororities) since the last briefing. She thanked students who have been forthcoming with contacts when requested.
She said that sororities have submitted plans both to prevent the spread of the virus and to contain it if someone tested positive. Those plans are being reviewed and improved as they see opportunities to do so. They are now allowing some to self-isolate in the houses. Dr. Gregg noted that the drop in active cases probably reflects those who had the illness at the beginning of classes.
Students are using a health app. Students are requested to do a health check form online every time they enter campus. If necessary, students are directed to a self-isolation form. This triggers a faculty response to help insure student safety. Dr. Gregg noted there might be a delay in contact, but to please self-isolate in the meantime.
Regarding the structure of classes, Dr. Plowman said 20% of students are taking entirely online classes and 75% are taking at least half their classes online. Dr. Amber Williams noted that the same faculty is teaching all the classes, but the delivery is different. She noted that on her walk to the briefing, she saw a student in one of the ubiquitous hammocks on campus, taking a class while lounging. All freshmen have been assigned to an academic team and coach. She also pointed out that activities continue, like an outdoor movie showing on campus later this week.
Dr. Zomchick also pointed out that staff is also having to make technological shifts. Tech support has been increased dramatically in order to allow teachers to teach and to work with students. Technology support has also been extended to students as they navigate the new system. He stressed patience and grace.
Knox County Schools:
Knox County Schools is reporting 43 active cases, including 21 students and 22 staff members. The chart above is inaccurate for, at the very least, yesterday. A look at yesterday’s article on this site shows the numbers for that day included 36 active cases, not the same 43 as shown above. This indicates a 19.4% increase overnight in the number of active cases.
The school system is also reporting that 77 students and staff have recovered and that 428 are currently in isolation or quarantine. Despite the graph on the site showing this to be the same as yesterday, it is not (check yesterday’s article). The number quarantined or in isolation increased from 328, yesterday, an increase of 30.5%. The number now includes 356 students and 72 staff.