Yesterday, the state of Tennessee reported 2,965 new cases of COVID-19. The number is the highest since July 31 and is the fourth highest of the pandemic. The state fell behind only Texas and California for the most cases reported for the day. The total of confirmed cases during the course of the pandemic is now 207,669, with an additional 10,013 probable cases. 194,836 cases are considered inactive and 10,059 Tennesseans are currently ill. There were seven deaths, bringing the total to 2,774.
Thirty-three additional COVID-positive hospitalizations were reported by the state, bringing the number of people who have been hospitalized with the illness since the beginning of the pandemic to 9,248. The number of current hospitalizations across the state has been revised upward from what I reported yesterday, perhaps because some counties didn’t report over the weekend.
According to the state’s website, hospitalizations have continued to increase for several weeks, and Sunday’s number, which I reported yesterday (815), has been revised upward to 1,056. Yesterday’s total hospitalized increased to 1,068. Of these, 313 are in ICUs and 154 are on ventilators. For comparison, on September 12, those numbers were 789, 264 and 123 respectively.
It should be noted that testing has also surged in recent days, with the number of reported tests for yesterday at just over 39,200. According to Johns Hopkins University, it was the fifth highest testing total reported in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic and played a role in the detection of the large number of infections reported.
That said, we are not over testing, as the positive test rate actually increased for the day to 7.94% according to the state and that number would be dropping if we were finding an adequate percentage of our cases. Johns Hopkins also reports an increase in the seven-day average to 7.1%.
Knox County News:
The Knox County Health Department reported 146 additional cases of COVID-19 today. It’s the highest number reported for a single day since September 19. The four consecutive days of over 100 cases is the first since 9/10 – 9/13. While many assumed the September numbers reflected high numbers of UT cases, it’s less clear how to explain the current surge.
The total number of cases in Knox County since the beginning of the pandemic has now reached 11,170, with an additional 513 probable cases. 10,317 people have recovered and 1,277 remain ill. Active cases numbers have continued to climb since being re-set on October 1. Since the beginning of the month, active cases have increased by 321, or 33.6%.
Hospitalizations, which tied the record for the highest number at any one time on October 5, has tied or broken a record each day since. The current number of COVID-19 positive Knox County residents is 70, a 100% increase in the last two weeks.
Deaths, after four days holding steady, surged today, with three additional deaths reported. According to the website, those deaths were spread across three age categories: 45-64 (1), 65-74 (1) and 75+ (1). The distribution of the 89 reported deaths from the beginning of the pandemic is 18-44 (5), 45-64 (21), 65-74 (22) and 75+ (41).
Dr. Buchanan chaired today’s press conference, expressing gratitude for the Health Department staff, who has worked extremely hard for seven months. Since March, the team has done over 20,000 tests, investigated 11,022 cases, 25,855 contacts, provided and coordinated support to over 250 regional health organizations, set up a phone bank which has handled over 43,000 calls, created more than 60 COVID-19 educational videos in five different languages. Even as they have done that, they have maintained their normal activities such as family planning and others. WIC requests have surged to record highs.
She said COVID-19 testing is continuing at Dameron Avenue from 9am to 3pm every week day. She reported the above numbers.
How should people go about voting and what did you recommend to the election commission: Five core actions. Don’t go to the polls if you are sick. The election commission has guidance from other sources, as well.
Hospitalizations continue to rise. Does this mean there are more cases than is being reported? Yes. We believe people are avoiding testing for various reasons. This continues the spread. This will result in more deaths if it continues.
Can we look at hospitalizations and project number of cases? Perhaps, but its hard to do and may not be possible at this time.
At what point should hospitals be concerned about surge capacity? Ask them.
Is it safe to vote? If everyone observes the five core actions, yes.
Poll workers tend to be older and more vulnerable, what have you advised? Five core actions. Respect them by doing so.
As voting begins, do you anticipate a spike in cases similar to schools? They are different – schools are all day and voting is brief. If people wear masks, etc., we shouldn’t see a spike.
How do symptoms of normal allergies and colds differ from COVID-19. Temperature, achiness, more severe symptoms.
Are you concerned what will happen after fall break? Not if they maintained the five core actions.
Tomorrow the bar and restaurant 11pm closure expires unless voted to continue. What will you do? We’ll look at the data. Numbers are going up. Proving cause and effect is difficult. We know after the mask mandate, numbers stabilized. Success would be seeing our numbers going down. Reporting data in real time is unusual for public health and doesn’t allow us to do analysis.
Are there any cases connected to the UT game? I’m not aware of related clusters.
University of Tennessee News:
The University of Tennessee is reporting 59 active cases, a number which has remained remarkably consistent for more than two weeks. 1,561 students and staff are reported to have recovered. The university also reported nine new cases among students and staff. 296 students and staff are currently in isolation. The isolation/quarantine number is far lower than it was at its worst, but it is also the highest it has been since October 1 and has recently been rising slowly.
One new cluster of cases has been reported, originating from Army ROTC field training exercise planning meetings held in Hodges Library. The meetings occurred October 10 and were discovered two days later.