COVID-19: 9/16/2020 Update

Tennessee Daily Cases 9.16.2020 (Source:

Welcome to mid-week and to the second half of September. If you feel a little discouraged with our current malaise, consider that we got a few days of tiger fun while the west coast burned. While our air was turning crisp with promise of a beautiful explosion of color to come soon, the gulf coast was assaulted by back-to-back hurricanes, with more possibly on the way. Despite the hardship, we are fortunate. Keep the flame of hope alive and burn a candle for those who are facing struggles from which we’ve been mercifully exempted.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 957 additional cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 169,893. An additional 30 deaths were reported yesterday, bringing that total to 2,127. Of those diagnosed since the beginning of the pandemic, 158,660 are considered inactive, leaving 9,106 Tennesseans who remain ill. There are 5,338 probable cases.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 9.16.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

82 Tennesseans were hospitalized yesterday, though the net number of hospitalized, COVID-positive cases dropped to 791. The trend toward fewer hospitalizations continues, dropping by almost 200 from the same date the previous month. ICU patients now number 257, with 119 on ventilators. It continues an odd disconnect: Fewer Tennesseans are being hospitalized, while more are dying.

The number of tests reported yesterday, 22,384, reflects a 39% drop from yesterday and partially explains the drop in cases reported. It does not, however, explain the drop in positive test percentage from 7.15% to 4.69%. Mathematically, the number of positive tests should rise with a reduction in testing. Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, is reporting an improving positive test result rate, with the seven-day average currently reporting at 5.8%.

Knox County Daily Cases 9.16.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County News:

The Knox County Health Department reported 66 additional cases today, bringing the pandemic total to 8,656. No additional deaths were reported, leaving that total at 67. Of the 8,656, 6,892 are considered inactive, while 2,024 remain ill. There are currently 29 COVID-positive Knox County residents hospitalized, the lowest number reported since early August. There are 327 probable cases, as that number has increased every day this month.

The Knox County Board of Health meets tonight amid increasing pressure to deliver new strategies in the fight against the illness. The Knoxville News Sentinel editorial deemed them “ineffectual,” Dr. Birx visited this week and said more should be done, and Dr. Plowman has pleaded for help at U.T. A vocal segment of the community is opposed to any additional measures and wants to remove those in place, including the mask mandate. The current mandate for bars to close at 11:00 pm, ends tonight in the absence of action on the part of the Board of Health.

Benchmarks were updated today and remain unchanged: Red for case increases, green for public health capacity and yellow for all others.

The meeting will begin at 5:00 pm today and may be viewed on the local Community Television station, on their website or on the Knox County Government Youtube channel.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 9.16.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee)

University of Tennessee News:

Numbers are improving at the University of Tennessee. While the beginning of classes – and more importantly, communal living – was messy, with worse numbers than expected, the last several days offered some hope. There are currently 499 active cases in the UT community, including 486 students and 13 staff members.  The number dropped by 146 since yesterday and 163 since the same day last week.

Similarly, the number of students and staff in isolation/quarantine is improving. There are currently 1,784 in isolation/quarantine, compared to 2,087 yesterday and 2,023 a week ago. No new clusters have been discovered in the last eight days.

It might appear that students now understand the stakes of their behavior and are responding accordingly, though it is early in the academic year and we have yet to see if there will be a Labor Day bounce in numbers. Still, it’s encouraging to see that hook in the graph.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 9.16.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools:

Knox County School numbers also include reason for encouragement. The number of active cases connected with the Knox County Schools is now reported as 42, including 33 students and 9 staff members. The number is down from 50 yesterday and from 45 a week ago on the same day.

176 students and staff are reported to have recovered. 908 remain in quarantine or isolation, including 843 students and 65 staff. The number dropped over 100 since yesterday, though it has increased about 90 from a week ago on the same day. Benchmarks remain the same, with green for most, with the exception of cafeteria staff (yellow) and substitutes (red).


  1. Pamela Schoenewaldt says

    My husband and I got tested 9/9 by the health department at the Jacob’s Bldg. I got my results (negative) on 9/11. Today we called and there is no record of his test. A helpful, concerned staffer will check “another data base.” But still . . . hard to have accurate numbers if records get lost. And hard to know how to proceed. We can’t get re-tested by KCHD because we’re in Maine.

  2. Most bars are not closing at 10 pm because there is no enforcement. Bar owners feel it is their right to ignore the mandates, and they are.

    • Absurd mandates don’t deserve to be enforced, so more power to the bars sensible enough to stand up to the unelected dullards on the Knox County Board of Health. Also, for the record, the vast majority of bars in downtown Knoxville are adhering to your precious mandate.

      I’m sure that there will be a tyrannical push at tonight’s meeting towards outlawing all alcohol sales past 10:00 PM or enforcing some kind of closure of bars on the strip, which may or may not pass now that Buchanan (one of the more level-headed board members, in general) has decided she’ll vote, but hopefully the Knox County Sheriff comes out and tells everyone in support of this to go kick rocks. Let’s not forget that there are merely 29 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Knox County and that, most importantly, people deeply concerned with contracting COVID-19 need to bear the onus of sequestering themselves from society for the near future as opposed to relying on the disgusting curtailment of our rights.

      • I was discussing today with a family member how our father at age 22 was flying a B-17 Bomber from England to Germany and back. One time three of the four engines were gone and they crash landed back across the channel after the rest of the crew bailed. Today people cannot wear a mask or quit drinking by 10. Ridiculous. Hope your rights are not interupted or your feelings are hurt.

        • I was discussing over the weekend how tough people used to be (Revolutionary War with no shoes, horrible equipment, horrible weather, etc. or other wars) and now we are afraid of a virus that has killed 67 people in a county of almost 200,000. Masks are just not an answer. Servers are touching their face, adjusting the things (when they would not be normally touching their face) and then touching our plates. People are taking their masks off (with their hands) and putting back on near their own mouths/noses when normally their hands wouldn’t be around that area. Plus, the particles of COVID go right through them. They simply don’t work:

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

            You could say the same thing about the Revolutionary War, etc. and ask why people are no longer tough enough to do something as simple as wear a mask. It’s not much to ask. As for the server’s touching their masks, I assume you saw the same video of our president using that precise line yesterday. It’s unfortunate, because masks do work. At least that is what the CDC says. And the World Health Organization. And the various nursing and doctors associations. And the White House Task Force. And epidemiologists around the world. And our local health department. A Youtube video saying otherwise just doesn’t compete, for me. I’ll trust the vast majority of medical associations and authorities.

          • Kenneth Moffett says

            The internet can be a poor resource for accurate and reliable information if you’re not careful. It would appear that Dr. Ted Noel has taken up rabble rousing as a hobby, posting no end of opinion-based assertions on all sorts of subjects on the internet.

            Going without masks would be fine with me if those who do so could be kept away from those of us who prefer not to risk sickness or death.

          • Leonard Waring says

            Everyone should take the time to watch “The Social Dilemma” free on Netflix.

        • Seriously….where is there a “right” to drink that’s being infringed upon? Or a “right” to have a bar you can access after 10 pm? I’m sympathetic to the problem that businesses are impacted, but I think the folks on the board (or “unelected dullards” in your lingo) are trying to do their best to balance everyone’s rights — and your rights end where my nose begins as they say — against the business impact. There’s that old saying that “with rights come responsibility” and the idea is that the bar owners and drinkers actually take some of the latter versus the “you bear the onus and we do what we want” approach, if you want to couch it in terms of “rights” related to drinking. Every day this goes on reveals just how far we are from a “we are in this together” mentality in this country.

          • It is not the responsibility of students on the strip post-“curfew,” nor the establishments paying rent/generating tax revenue that they’re frequenting, to make sure that you don’t contract COVID-19. Expecting “the many” to alter their lives for the last six months (with no end in sight, least of all the fifteen days bandied about) out of concern for “the few” as opposed to said few taking full accountability for their own health is peak absurdity, and there’s absolutely no reason to continue enforcing (let alone have the gall to add any additional) mandates in Knox County regarding this disease.

          • Leonard Waring says

            How many of the few should die?

      • I think you are confusing your Rights with your entitlements. When I first moved to TN there were a large number of counties where alcohol sales were not allowed or heavily restricted and not on Sunday. Why? Because conservatives (back then that could be a D or R) had a narrow interpretation of the bible and imposed that will on the whole state. Now we have a deadly pandemic and we can’t stop alcohol sales to help out. Get real.

        I think it’s smarter to restrict some alcohol sales or business hours and have are economy going. If they close restaurants earlier it will help most of them out by shifting the business into less hours making labor more manageable. Staying open an extra hour or two just to catch a couple hundred bucks isn’t always an effective strategy when things are down. If you look around most restaurants have did that already.

        • Just to clarify, you’re hoping to see businesses stay afloat by condensing their sales into fewer hours… which, inextricably, would require them to have more patrons earlier. Care to think that one over?

          Your solution to helping curb the spread of COVID-19 is to encourage businesses to “catch” that “couple hundred bucks” prior to mandatory (determined by an unelected health board) closing time? Isn’t that going to increase the likelihood of businesses eschewing distancing practices so that they can accommodate an influx of customers? Is there some other method by which you propose businesses compensate for the lost hours?

          It’s time to call the board’s bluff and see if Eve Thomas has the stones to enforce the whims of eight individuals; something tells me that this “mandate” is all bark and no bite. If that fails, I suppose we can just call anything a “protest” and it’s suddenly fair game!

          • Jordan M Slingluff says

            The point is any restaurant that is making money off of food has already reduced their hours in a manner like I said. The ones making money off of boozes are the ones staying open later.

            They don’t make up the money. It’s not like anyone wants to do this but we have a problem. Lots of people arent making enough these days. Trying to prop up the over saturated bars and brew pub scene we have at the expense a public health is just not something Im for…..

      • GBO203 Wow, I’m amazed at your bizarre opinion. The issue here in not that curtailing your rights. Nobody has the right to go out and infect other people with COVID-19 whether they are asymptomatic (and don’t know they are spreading the disease) or not. If everyone wore masks, then this would be over sooner rather than later. But the Neandertal thinking of so many in Knox county is what is causing the case counts to rise. It’s also not about having only 68 deaths in a county of close to 200,000, but the 8400 other cases where the people may have recovered somewhat, but may have lifetime damage to their hearts, brains, muscles and other parts of their bodies. This is not just about deaths, but quality of life for survivors. One death would have been too much and 68 deaths for a disease that could have been stopped in two weeks had tRump handled this correctly instead of lying non-stop on a daily basis, is way too many. You won’t understand until your or close family or friens get infected and either die or want to kill themselves after supposedly recovering when their health is poor for the rest of their lives. PLEASE get educated and rely on science, not your Fox News talking points.

      • Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about drunk driving laws? Are they not an infringement on my rights? There were only 379 alcohol and drug related deaths in all of TN last year. 380 the year before that. Seems like a small price to pay, to allow me to get my crunk on and then drive home. If you are one of the people susceptible to motor vehicle damage to your body and don’t want to risk getting hit by me and my rights as I swerve back to my pad, go ahead and stay in your house.

        How about seat belts? How about no smoking indoors?

        Of course I’m not advocating drunk driving, I’m just suggesting that there are laws for public safety that most people follow as a general courtesy to others, but are laws because otherwise the less concerned of us would not follow them and it would mess it up for us all.

        Look, nobody wanted this virus to happen. Nobody wants to be on lockdown, or have to wear a mask, or try to figure out how to educate our kids, but here we are. You can say you don’t care about getting the virus, and frankly, I don’t care if you get the virus, but what I do care about is people who refuse to wear masks, don’t practice social distancing, and are cavalier with their behavior generally are propagating this virus and extending the time we all have to go through this BS. That’s all. We all want to get beyond this and at least one way to expedite that process is to wear a mask. Reducing unnecessary exposure in an environment that is likely to limit social distancing is another. These are small sacrifices that can be made to smartly address this concern. If you have other ideas, shout them out, but trolling around complaining about how it’s being dealt with isn’t very productive, in my humble opinion.

  3. concerned parent 2 says

    Thanks again, Alan, for all your work with these numbers!

    Yesterday’s state rate of positive test results from tests recorded for the *day* seems to me to be 957 positive out of 22,384 test results recorded which yields a 4.28% positivity rate. But that’s for the day only.

    Were the state’s declared… “drop in positive test percentage from 7.15% to 4.69%” the change in the daily positivity rate, or in the 4-day average for positivity rate, or in the 7-day average for positivity rate?

    You mentioned that Johns Hopkins’ 5.8% positivity rate for TN is their calculation for the state’s rolling 7-day average.

    Although at a glance it looks unlikely, maybe all the numbers could be correct if they are looking at different time-frames.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      The state number of positive results specifically says “X% positive today.” They have started including it on the front page of their data site ( So, the drop I stated was based on the number on their front page given two days ago and yesterday). Strangely enough, today the state reported a much larger number of tests given and yet, the % positive went back up, so who knows?

  4. Lynn M Venafro says

    Thank you Alan for all your hard work to keep us informed.
    How will all the bars feel when they have to close because of lack of customers because UT had to close because the increase of COVID-19 cases on campus? Then they can only wish they could be open until 10 pm!

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