COVID-19 Update: 9/15/2020 (Including the K. C. Health Dept. and UTK Briefings)

Tennessee Daily Cases 9.15.2020 (Source: TN.gov)
Tennessee Daily Cases 9.15.2020 (Source: TN.gov)

I hope your week is off to a good start. There’s a bit of coolness in the air, with a promise of more to come. The virus can’t kill a good weather day. It’s a great time to sit on the porch, balcony, stoop, or deck. Or to take a walk through the city or along the river. Any time is a great time for a walk along a trail, but this time of year is the best. Grab it before it’s gone – winter will be here in a blink.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 2,450 additional cases of COVID-19, yesterday, to bring the pandemic total to 169,130 (yesterday’s total was higher because it included, mistakenly, probable cases) Tennesseans who have had the illness. There are an additional 5,144 probable cases. 156,808 people have recovered. An additional 19 deaths were reported from the illness, bringing that total to 2,097.

U.S. Daily Testing and Positive Test Rate 9.14.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Net hospitalizations have risen to 762 COVID-positive Tennesseans, with an additional 56 people hospitalized, yesterday. There are 126 pending cases. 260 are in the ICU and 114 are on ventilators. All hospitalization numbers remain better than a week ago on this day.

Testing surged yesterday, as long-time readers here would know, given the surge in numbers of cases. The state reported results from 36,583 tests, yesterday, with a 7.15% positive test rating. The James Hopkins University numbers show a seven-day average of 6.2%.

Knox County Daily Cases 9.15.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County News:

The Knox County Health Department is reporting 219 new cases today, the second largest single-day total since the beginning of the pandemic, just three shy of the highest number set nine days earlier. The pandemic total for cases is now 8,590 cases. The surge in cases drove the number of active cases to 1,955, the highest it has been since numbers were adjusted downward on September 5. 6,892 people now have their cases classified as inactive.

There are currently 34 people hospitalized and the total number hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic now sits at 312. There are no new deaths reported today, leaving that total at 67. 324 people are reported as probable case and that number has risen every day for two weeks after fluctuating prior to that. I hope to ask for an explanation in today’s press conference.

Press Conference:

Dr. Buchanan began today’s meeting noting the pain of those who have experienced the illness and those who have lost family members. She reiterated the need to follow the five core actions. She gave an example of how to safely visit family on an out-of-town visit. She said to continue to wear your mask inside, use separate bedrooms and bathrooms, wash hands, eat together outside. If you are not feeling well, do not leave home.

We continue the same testing schedule this week at the Jacob’s Building. She reminded everyone of the board meeting tomorrow night. She confirmed the above numbers. She noted the large daily increases and pleaded with everyone to follow the core actions if we want to have anything resembling a normal fall. If everyone follows the guidance, the community will be safer and people can do what they want, only with precautions.

Questions:

  • Why is the probable number going up continually? People have more contacts and cases are also rising.
  • We’ve seen a slight dip in UT cases. Does the Health Dept. think that bar closures around the campus would help? Dr. Birx confirmed that curfews with alcohol helps. It’s something to consider.
  • Did Dr. Birx speak about possible mitigation strategies? Yes.
  • With 25% of cases within school age recently, what does that mean for schools? Schools being open depends on what  we all do.
  • What is the Health Department saying to schools? The same thing we are saying to everyone.
  • Does KCHD have oversight over bars? We have a regulatory relationship, but only codes related to food. The Board could act in that arena.
  • How do you decide when to enforce or to educate? We’ve had a relationship with this industry for decades and we have always started with education. With COVID, there have been different regulation and we treat it the same. We’ve not yet taken regulatory action against a business.
  • Are fewer people requesting tests? Yes. We are seeing the testing numbers across the state and the country going down. It’s a concern. We need to be identifying people who do not have symptoms, but are ill. We need the cooperation of the community to get tested, to quarantine, if needed, in order to keep our community safe.
  • Are you considering shifting how enforcement is handled? Enforcement has to be a coordinated effort and regulations need to be clear, which is a lesson we’ve learned.
  • How should people decided when to get a COVID-test? People who are symptomatic or people who are not symptomatic, but have had an exposure.
  • What notices has KCHD gotten regarding vaccine distribution? There is a lot of conversation and communication. We are preparing.
  • Flu shots or mists will be offered after school hours at schools, in hopes of having parents also get vaccinated.
University of Tennessee Active Cases 9.15.2020 (Source: UTK.edu)

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee is reporting 645 active cases. 630 students and 15 staff total are included. Only 1 faculty member is included in the number. There are 2,087 in quarantine or isolation. There are now more residential students than non-residential students in quarantine. This number is down by about 90 since yesterday. Of the total, 102 are employees.

Press Conference:

Dr. Birx, from the White House Task Force, met with UTK staff today and reviewed their situation, made suggestion and was, according to Dr. Plowman, impressed with the measures the University has taken. She also met with community leaders, including both mayors and Dr. Buchanan. She encouraged a community-wide approach.

Dr. Gregg said Dr. Birx supported the surveillance testing. She said the CDC may be updating quarantine recommendations, he said, to a shorter period. Dr. Birx supported the encouragement to gather outside and keep gatherings small. Dr. Gregg said the numbers are encouraging, though he’s watching for the two-week mark after Labor Day. He and Dr. Plowman noted that the downturn in active cases is due to recoveries increasing.

More testing and multiple kinds of testing are being instituted. PCR testing of all students moving out of Massey hall was conducted and this week all students in Magnolia will be tested. They hope to get a more comprehensive view of the current situation after that data is gathered. Waste water from dorms and Greek houses is being tested. Wider-spread saliva tests are being used.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 9.15.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County Schools are reporting 50 total active cases, including 39 students and 11 staff members. The numbers have slowly declined for several days, dropping from 55 yesterday. 163 students and staff have recovered from the illness. 986 students and staff are in quarantine, an increase from 863 the previous day. The number includes 917 students and 69 staff members.

No schools are closed at this time. According to the benchmarks, the primary concern system-wide, continues to be substitute availability and, to a lesser degree, custodial support.

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