COVID-19 Monthly Charts

Tennessee COVID-19 Cases By Month (*September data is for half the month.)

A while back, several readers suggested that enough time had passed that monthly charts might be more helpful in order to visualize where we were in our progress of fighting COVID-19, both at the state and local level. It gives us a chance to widen the lens from the every day numbers and see a graphic representation of where we’ve been and where we seem to be heading.

I last showed these charts at the end of July. Having missed the end of August (It’s hard to find a place and the time to update and insert them), I decided to run them on their own today and to include the half-month of September to see what might present itself in a graphic look at the progress of the disease.

Ignoring fluctuations in testing, and assuming everything else is equal, the state of Tennessee is improving regarding new cases. July was a disaster, dwarfing everything that came before it. Some local governments responded with mandates of various sorts, wearing masks became more common and August was better.

Clearly, August still dwarfs every month except July, but it was a move in the right direction. To this point, September looks to be an improvement over August, though still much larger than the early months. On the whole, the state case chart is encouraging.

Tennessee COVID-19 Deaths By The Month (*September Data represents half the month.)

The state death chart surprised me. I knew that cases were dropping and I knew that deaths had risen recently, but I didn’t appreciate the size of the disconnect between the two. While cases dropped about 22% from July to August, deaths actually rose by 52%! This is the precise opposite of what has happened around the world, with new case numbers setting records while deaths fall. In the U.S., both cases and deaths are falling.

Why is the Tennessee death rate getting worse? Projecting forward, given current numbers, the projection would be for another fall in cases for the state, while the number of deaths remain virtually unchanged, meaning the death rate increases, again. This is definitely cause for concern at the state level.

Knox County COVID Cases by Month (*September data respresents half the month.)

Taking it down to a local level, an examination of the rate of case increases is not encouraging. While cases have fallen precipitously across the country and in the state, Knox County is not improving and, if anything looks to get worse. After having very few cases for months – so much so that it seemed odd – July showed us we did not have some sort of special immunity, with cases soaring nearly 500% over the previous month.

In early August, it appeared we might have turned a corner, only to see cases increase in late August, leaving the total virtually the same as July. The biggest concern at this time is that September looks poised to obliterate the previous months. Unless the rate slows, we will have over 4,000 cases in September. We are looking at a 40% to 50% increase over our two worst months.

Knox County COVID Deaths By Month (*September data represents half the month.

Deaths in Knox County were even stranger than cases for a long stretch. While deaths soared in areas of the world and country, we had five in the first two months tracked and an incredible zero for the next two months. This is when the illness got the most vocal local ridicule, as it was compared to other low-number causes of death.

July was a bit of a wake-up call, with deaths shooting up to 34. It may be considered a small relative number, but it was roughly seven times the total of the previous four months. August was better, as we seemed to follow trends elsewhere, with a dropping death rate, though it still dwarfed the early months. September appears to be moving toward almost precisely matching the month of August.

So, what to make of all of this? It’s pretty clear that the state and the county really first felt significant impact from the illness in July. While the state seems to making strides reducing cases, it is struggling to reduce deaths. The county is somewhat a reverse of the state, with cases exploding, but deaths, so far, leveled off or falling.


  1. Great job. I think the state death rate is an artifact of the lag between diagnosis and outcome (i.e. if most of the cases in July were diagnosed late, the resulting mortality would pass to August). Also would be interested to see if there is a disparity in outcomes based on access to hospital care.

    I have a county testing rate and a county positivity rate chart if you’re interested.

  2. Concerned parent says

    CDC came out and said they no longer mandated testing of those exposed who were without symptoms. Therefore less got tested and more people were repeatedly exposing people. My guess is the repeated higher level of exposure has made more susceptible to death.

    • Death rates have done nothing but go down. So, your guess seems to be without any merit.

      • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

        To be clear, she was talking about the death rates in Tennessee, which have gone up – against national and international trends which are, as you said, downward.

  3. Death rates… how many struggled for 4 weeks before dying? Eight weeks? We don’t know.
    I think the numbers hospitalized gives a better picture of just how many seriously ill people we have.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      It’s weird, though. Look at the state level and hospitalizations are steadily going down, while deaths are steadily going up. I assume most people are hospitalized when they die, so it would seem there would be fewer dying. I don’t have an answer or an opinion. It’s just an observation.

      • concerned parent 2 says

        The more hospitalized covid patients who die the fewer hospitalized patients remain in the hospital. Have heard this story a couple times from nurse friends in the city…

  4. I have been doing a bit of reflecting on the local transition from Mayor Kincannon’s and Dr. Buchanan’s initial response to the transition to Mayor Jacobs dystopian struggle with the realities of our community’s issues with Covid. Two weeks prior to the county taking over the response, Kincannon and Buchanan had Knox County down to 13 active cases after an initial scare that had us on track to follow the rest of the nation’s pattern of exploding cases. When Mayor Jacobs took the helm there were 28 active cases after an uptick following an anti-mask rally at Westtown. The timing suggests correlation, though I have seen no data tying these two circumstances to each other. After a truly bizarre late May address on the County Government’s Facebook page in which Mayor Jacobs brought semi-automatic weapons with high magazine capacity into the studio and encouraged his followers to sight in their weapons Memorial Day hit and we got our first significant bump in cases in June. Mayor Jacobs had allowed bars to open without any oversight in early May. These two factors were likely major factors in the community spread we began seeing around this time.

    Despite rumblings and warnings back as far as May/June about the effects of losing football, a multi-billion dollar economic driver of our economy, the Swedish Protocol, a laissez faire approach to Covid, endorsed by Martin Daniel and Jason Zachary and instituted by Glenn. Jacobs was adopted as our county policy. This lasted about two months until it became dreadfully clear that this was indeed policy that would lead to massive active cases, hospitalization, and sadly, the maximum number of deaths we were likely to experience. There is no excuse for the blatant disregard for human life that these three politicians have shown. There is no political or scientific justification for their actions. They must be held accountable for our community to progress out of the surge they have brought on.

    It was also during this May/June period that both anecdotal and scientific efficacy studies began to show just how truly effective masks were in controlling the spread of the virus. By May, those of us following the science of this disease, all knew that masking up was the key to both reopening and establishing some sense of normal ness to our economy and lives. Masks would also be key to keeping football season, in some sort of form that we were used to, intact. That ship has sailed.

    The irony of the choice Daniel, Jacobs and Zachary forced upon us, by recruiting and motivating an a small army of obstructionists , who have turned into an instrument of destruction of human capital, is that Knoxville and UT has put ourselves in position to be a “bubble host” for SEC football. Our team had fewer cases, our town had fewer cases than anyone in the SEC at the start of May. In my crowd, we were talking about running six games a weekend out of Neyland, maxing out our hospitality industry’s capacity, and hosting half of the SEC’s games, simply because our response had been that much better than anyone else’s at that point. Sadly, that ship too, has sailed. Our politicians overruled and undermined our scientists.

    In July a mask ordinance was passed into law. Since that time, the Mayor’s cult had turned into a full fledged bio terrorist movement. They don’t even deny their role nor their part in the deaths of an alarming number of Knox County residents. What started out as an anti-mask movement has morphed into a full scale bio terrorist action. And before you question the labeling of that movement, ask yourself this, “What do you call a group that engages in deliberate behavior knowingly infecting thousands of innocent, random citizens without their knowledge or consent with a disease known to be permanently debilitating and/or deadly?”

    After a second, even more bizarre holiday address to his followers on the Fourth of July where Glenn Jacobs urged his supporters to boycott mask usage and compared that action to the founding father’s struggles against King George (I swear I’m not making this up) and claiming that freedom to not wear a mask and free markets were why we fought the Revolutionary War (yes I’m aware that Article 1 delegates the duty, obligation, power, and responsibility of regulating interstate and international markets to Congress, but we’re not talking about facts, we’re talking about what Mayor Jacobs tells his followers), the July and August surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths was soaring. Those advancing political agendas rather than dealing with science infected the town to such a level that it will take months of concerted effort to bring our outbreak under control, and yet, Jacobs’ terrorist operation apparently keeps growing.

    We have the best possible plans for reopening both UT and KCS, but with Mayor Jacobs ongoing undermining of any process not dictated by him, our odds for success are negligible.

    So here we are, on the cusp of football season. Six local high school teams and twelve D1 college teams have cancelled games this weekend. Knoxville will lose in the billions of dollars in generated economic impact, and likely go through another Covid surge due to the incompetence of the County Mayor’s handling of this crisis. The results are in, Mayor Jacobs approach has been wrong from the outset, yet in about an hour, he’s going to demand the power to mess this up even worse. At least, that’s my prediction.

    Someone is going to have to check the power of this local terrorist operation if we’re going to have a shot at anything resembling a normal holiday season . Working together, we can bring this town and county through this crisis. It’s ironic that those refusing to volunteer to do their part is what’s destroying the Volunteer Nation. We must decide what direction we wish to go in. We can mask up and beat it, or we can dedicate ourselves to mourning our dead for the foreseeable future.

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