COVID-19: 10/16/2020 Update (State and Local, Including Today’s UTK Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 10.16.2020 (Source:

Congratulations! We made it through another another week of a pandemic/bitter election year! Early voting started and numbers appear to be high. Please vote and vote safely. We’ll do that as an extended family this weekend and for Friday Night Movie Night, we’ll have a Harry Potter kind of night in celebration of Urban Girl’s completion of her year-long quest to read the entire series. We’ve got the last two movies cued. As a life-long non-fantasy fan, I’m taking this bullet for the girl. Drinks will be involved.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 2,289 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the respective totals to 212,116 confirmed cases and 10,711 probable cases. 200,164 people have recovered, while 9,088 remain ill. As yesterday’s cases surged across the U.S. to the largest total since July 31st, Tennessee ranked eighth among the states. Over the last seven days, the state has averaged 1,911 new cases each day.

36 additional deaths from the illness were reported across the state yesterday, bringing the total to 2,864 Tennesseans who have died of the illness. The state is now averaging 23 deaths each day. The 36 deaths reported yesterday was 6th highest among all states.

There were 45 Tennesseans admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 9,416. There are 11 fewer people hospitalized today (1140) than yesterday (1151). Given that 45 were admitted and 36 died, this leaves 20 who were discharged, if the numbers reported are aligned. This leaves the total number only below yesterday for the last six weeks. There were also similarly slight day-over-day reductions in ICU (354 to 336) and ventilated (166 to 149) patients. It may  be surmised that most, if not all of these reductions were due to deaths.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 10.16.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Roughly 24,700 new tests were reported yesterday, an increase over each of the two previous days. The state is reporting an eye-popping 9.55% positive test result rate. It is particularly alarming, given that the number of tests for the day was solid relative to earlier levels. Johns Hopkins University’s seven-day average positive test result rate is also increasing and is now at 7.5%, after a recent low of 5.4%.

Knox County Daily Cases 10.16.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County News:

The Knox County Health Department is reporting 125 new cases of COVID-19 among county residents. This brings the pandemic totals to 11,435 confirmed cases and and 540 probable cases. 10,649 people have recovered and 1,234 remain ill. The daily total breaks a two-day run of numbers below 100 and appears to confirm my theory that Knox County numbers rise and fall, more or less in concert, with the number of tests reported by the state. When testing rises at the state level, Knox County cases rise and the same in reverse.

Current hospitalization numbers increased by five people (net) over night to 62 COVID-positive Knox County residents, continuing the trend toward the top end of our pandemic daily totals (70 on Tuesday was the record number). Since the beginning of the pandemic, 412 COVID-positive Knox County residents have been hospitalized.

Two additional deaths were reported, bringing the total number to 92. Six deaths have been reported in the last four days. Each of the two people whose deaths were reported today were over the age of 75. The breakdown of deaths by age is now: 18-44 (5), 45 – 64 (21), 65 – 74 (23) and 75+ (43). As has been the case throughout, just over half the deaths have been among people below the age of 75 (49) and just under half have been over that age (43).

University of Tennessee Active Cases 10.16.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee)

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee is reporting 49 active cases, down from 61 the previous day. This with a new on-campus systematic testing protocol in place. The rise that administrators predicted has not happened. 1,593 have recovered and 3 new cases were reported yesterday. Isolations and quarantines also dropped slightly, to 322. The majority of students now isolated are off campus (194) rather than on campus (93).

Chancellor Plowman began today’s briefing by asking everyone to get a flu shot. Dr. Gregg said there has been an increase in testing at the Student Health Center, mostly driven by the systematic testing program and referrals from that. Of these, most students are asymptomatic. Small gatherings continue to be the apparent source of most spread.

She unveiled new testing information which shows that participation in the “mandatory” testing program dropped below 50% of students. 26 positive tests have resulted. (The best rough estimate I can derive from the numbers on the site suggest around 8,950 students have been tested in this manner and 26 have ultimately tested positive, for a rate of about .3%.) They made clear that these are virtually all asymptomatic students and that 26 asymptomatic students isolated from the student body can make a big difference in spread.

Waste water testing is also underway and it is being refined. They are detecting traces of the virus, but sampling techniques are being adjusted to determine how this can be most useful. They urged students to maintain suggested behaviors and be tested before they return home for the extended winter holiday. He said this will help protect those back home. Dr. Plowman made it clear that any student wanting testing on campus can get it.

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County School System is not reporting this week, due to fall break.



  1. As a fellow, life-long, non-fantasy person (I don’t even like
    “Charlotte’s Web” because I don’t want animals to talk) — I send sympathy. Hang in there and enjoy the drinks.

    Thanks for your continuing efforts to provide accurate and non-fantasy information!

  2. concerned parent 2 says

    Wow, the difference between UTK policy and student compliance versus the same at Yale is striking: a friend’s daughter there is in a single-occupancy dorm room but is taking only on-line classes and is required to get swabbed for covid twice a week. They even have an app that tells them to go to the clinic to be tested when their appointment is soon.

    Yale has had 175 cases identified, mostly back in April (on-campus capacity at Yale is 5117 (March and April total with a 3.4% positive rate) but only 60% was allowed to live on campus this fall).

    UTK has had 1562 cases, mostly since school started this fall. Not sure how many students are living on campus this fall at UTK and the positivity rate, with the common reports of non-compliance being tolerated, won’t mean much anyway.

    • Wait, are you telling me that there’s a difference between the way that a small private school in Connecticut and a large public school in Tennessee are handling COVID-19? Surely this cannot be the case!

      • Sealion Harpooner says

        Truly amazing!

        Let’s first consider that Connecticut is the 4th most densely populated state (6th below as it includes D.C. and Puerto Rico) in the country, while Tennessee is the 19th. I wonder if dense population might contribute to communicable viruses and disease?

        All the more surprising, as Connecticut has a current daily new case rate of 9.1 per 100k residents, while Tennessee is averaging 27.4 at the same time (locally, we’re at a lowly 24.9, further obfuscated due to lack of testing).

        That Connecticut has a positivity rate of 2.7% currently, while Tennessee is at 8.2% (Knox County closer to 11%, reflecting that previous lack of testing).

        That Connecticut is currently using 14% of ICU space, while we’re pushing 54% (good luck finding an easily-accessible figure for our great county).

        It’s almost like other states, municipalities, and university systems handled this crisis better than others. Not only valuing the life and long-run health but also the economic stability of their local populations. Amazing what you can find when you look at sites other than Stacey Campfield’s blog.

        Don’t just take my word for it though:

        As always, make sure you check out my response to your “economic crisis” quip from yesterday. All the best!

        • The point that you missed, my forever-furloughed friend, would be that contrasting the precautions of Yale against those taken by the University of Tennessee is foolhardy given the pronounced differences between both schools.

          As much as I appreciate your efforts in providing links that are patently incongruous to the discussion at hand, it’s worth noting that potential employers are likely going to be more concerned with pertinence than uniformed regurgitation.

          • Sealion Harpooner says

            No worries about my employment friend, just finishing up a well-deserved and earned week of rest funded collectively by my fellow tax-paying citizens. Back to the grind on Monday.

            Whether a private school of 6,000 or a public of 20,000, mitigation is possible. It’s called scalability.

            It’s more telling that New Haven County is twice as populous and to-date has roughly the same amount of confirmed cases.

            The argument that you should have been making was that Yale’s approach proves private efficiency like a typical business simp. But you definitely didn’t consider that.

          • Why would a “typical business simp” (great phrase, by the way; definitely legitimizes your alleged understanding of business and economics!) approve of costly “mitigation” efforts compounded by a drastic diminishment of revenue across the board? Seriously, that notion is nearly as laughable as your confusion regarding “scalability” and how such a concept would even remotely apply to Yale’s approach to COVID-19 versus that of Tennessee.

            Also, I’d say it’s significantly “more telling” that New Haven County has twelve times the number of COVID-19 deaths as Knox County despite having a population less than twice the size of Knox County’s and fairly-comparable population density. Almost makes you wonder if the draconian restrictions implemented by Lamont were worth it in the long run if all they’ve accomplished (aside from stifling business owners, of course!) is a lower case count for a disease that just isn’t a legitimate health risk for the overwhelming majority of this country.

          • Sealion Harpooner says

            You realize in the initial post that Yale enacted measures beyond anything the municipalities of New Haven required, correct?

            From their cost-benefit analysis, Yale has determined that the benefit of these measures outweigh any costs. Otherwise they’d never spend the money.

            It’s called “economies of scale,” look back at Econ 101. Sometimes the marginal costs of goods/services decrease as you produce more of them (to a point). Thus testing more (quantity produced) becomes cheaper in terms of initial cost and long-run repercussions the more you do it. 20,000 tests ordered vs. 6,000 might seem like a lot until you think of the marginal costs.

            The cause of the deaths in the New Haven area is simple: poverty and lack of healthcare access. While Yale has one of the largest endowments and is arguably THE Ivy League the moneyed class strive to send their children to, 25% of the population is below the poverty line. Also 33% of the population is Black and we already know that COVID is affecting that community more both in terms of health and economics.

            Yale is the largest landowner in the county, sucking up available properties for the haves to live and play. Driving cost of living for citizens up. (Something your hero/noted slumlord Stace knows all too well).

            Yale is the largest employer in New Haven, which means a huge amount of residents work for the university system. I wonder if a private university like Yale would ever stunt wages and benefits to protect that sweet, sweet endowment fund?

            Notice that the students (firmly in the top 1%) are getting tested frequently, but nothing mentioned here about the staff.

            As to the detriment to businesses from mandates: once again look up the terms “consumer confidence/sentiment,” “avoidance behaviors,” and “consumer self-regulation.”

          • I recognize that Yale’s measures are in addition to the mandates enacted by New Haven, you are the one who decided to reference New Haven/New Haven County for what it’s worth, though pretending as if Yale engaged in a simple cost-benefit analysis when deciding to implement these precautions is laughable. As laughable, as a matter of fact, as pretending that the only difference between Yale’s approach to COVID-19 compared to that of Tennessee is test quantity; I’m unsurprised that you’re ignorant of the phased campus reintroduction by class and Ivy-wide approach to athletics this year, among other distinct differences, but such policies are simply a non-starter at a flagship SEC school.

            You also seem to be quick to conflate New Haven with New Haven County yet backtrack when the situation suits your case though, categorically, this approach begins to fizzle with this latest comment. Knoxville, just like New Haven, has a 25% poverty rate so I’m not certain what you’re trying to get at when bemoaning the money inherent to Yale and its community. When comparing county to county, Knox County has a 3% “edge” in poverty rate; if New Haven (located almost squarely between Boston and New York with one of the finest hospitals in the nation right downtown) can attribute its COVID-19 rates to issues with “poverty” and “lack of healthcare access,” then how exactly do you explain a poorer Appalachian county with comparable population density outperforming New Haven County by leaps and bounds? I absolutely recognize the unfortunate reality of COVID-19 for black individuals, but that’s far less of a concern for Knoxville/Knox County (17.5%/8.8% respectively) than it is for New Haven/New Haven County (35.4%/12.7%) and I’m not particularly inclined to support measures that benefit a small subset of the population at the expense of everyone else.

            On top of laughing about your misinterpretation of my sarcastic endorsement of Campfield for the Knox County BoH (yet another surprising swing and a miss on your part), I’m still not convinced that your understanding of McKinsey’s analytics and textbook economic terms truly jives with reality. A quick contrast of bar/restaurant crowdedness in Maryville relative to Knoxville goes a long way towards disproving your theory behind “consumer confidence,” and I know firsthand that a conversation with most downtown business owners truly impacted by the BoH’s decrees would fly directly in the face of your asinine assumption that mandates (capacity, closing time, masks, et cetera) are keeping them afloat as opposed to serving as their potential death knell. Some of them still support the mandates out of a misguided concern for public health, but an honest discussion will immediately reveal that these restrictions are hurting their wallets far more than a full-fledged “return to normalcy” would.

          • Sealion Harpooner says

            “…though pretending as if Yale engaged in a simple cost-benefit analysis when deciding to implement these precautions is laughable.”

            How? You can’t make a statement like and not demonstrate that it’s false, it’s not new for you but it’s also not how arguments work. If you want to get pedantic every decision in life is cost-benefit analysis. It’s more beneficial to me to use my time to write this post than not. Not because I’m trying to convince you, but because it will benefit some unfortunate soul reading through this comment tree looking for a thread of logic. The cost for Yale is 6000+ tests every X days, the benefit is protecting the student body and the greater community, or even if you want to be an ultra-cynic: the benefit is keeping the coffers open on the endowment fund by doing some safety theater for the offspring of the 1%.

            No one said the only difference is quantity of tests, Yale is also doing the scientifically correct measures as far as quality of testing. I’m just making the point that UT could have scaled-up a Yale model, but didn’t and now it’s far too late. Again, the Ivys got it right. Not sure why the SEC matters but I guess all citizens must be sacrificed to the line…or the gridiron in this case.

            Didn’t realize that having a hospital, a top-notch one at that, automatically means that poors get to frequent it. The statement about “access to healthcare” is more about whether or not they have insurance. When you have insurance you seek early or preventative care, when you don’t you wait until there is an emergency.

            “Among New Haven County residents under
            age 65, the uninsured rate is 9%.” Around 15% of the U.S. population is 65 or older. Let’s assume that of the 850k in the county, 127.5k are over 65.

            So 850k-127.5k=722.5k(0.09)=65,025 uninsured.

            Cannot find a similar one for Knoxville or Knox County on a quick reference, but the statewide Tennessee rate is 6.9%.

            470k-70.5k=399.5(0.069)=27,565 uninsured

            Quite a difference, one might even say 2.35x as many people uninsured. But stats are hard when you term 1/3rd of a city’s population is a “small subset.”

            If you really want to separate yourself from Stacey, you should really start by making arguments that don’t mirror his approach or ideological underpinnings.

            You can make an argument about how well behavioral economics encapsulates reality, I’d love to hear your take on reference dependence or bounded rationality. That would be “rich” as you say.

            One wonders if you took the time to watch the economist’s input at the latest BoH meeting (time-stamped here):


            His assessment:
            – Our local population, like most, seems to be risk-averse
            – K-recovery (clothing, restaurants, gas down while retail and grocery up)
            – Consumers are substituting (e.g., e-commerce vs. local biz)
            – “Private self-regulating behavior” accounts for 75% decline in foot traffic pre-mandates (source: )
            – MIT study found “case counts as effective as stay-at-home-orders” at decreasing discretionary spending (haven’t found this source yet).
            – Ending mandates will create winners and losers the same as keeping them.
            – There will be more avoidance behaviors due to surges in case counts post-mandates.

            Show me the sales tax stats from Maryville, I’d genuinely love to see them. As that would be evidence for your argument instead of just anecdotes. You’re again twisting my words about “keeping businesses afloat” what I said was the mandates mitigate transmission and limit community spread which allows businesses to operate at a reduced capacity instead of grinding to another halt and shutting down due to cases. That’s 0% capacity instead of 50%.

            For what it’s worth I think Tennessee, Knox County, and Knoxville governments all made a mistake in their timings of safer-at-home orders in the Spring. We could have likely stayed open for longer, but like many states and communities seemingly shutdown in solidarity with the harder-hit areas. This is unfortunate because it choked our economy before their was any real need for a lockdown on anything but vulnerable populations. Because of that, we started the misguided attempts at opening up right as community spread became an issue in the state and later in our community. What we need right now is a coordinated 3-4 week shelter-in-place order with actual teeth behind it, but that social capital was burned by mistakes early on. So we’re stuck with a lingering pandemic while upwards of 75% are observing or supporting some of the mitigation efforts while an increasingly vocal 25% are setting back any progress made.

  3. The difference, sadly, comes down to the intent of the “handling.” One school intends to suppress cases while another is aiming somewhere around mitigation. Without the high rates of testing, thorough tracing, and stringent quarantining necessary to achieve suppression being adopted everywhere nothing will slow covid’s spread in the wider population until an effective vaccine is created. All leadership – whether in small, private, New England schools or large, public, Southeastern schools – need to be doing the same thing.

  4. If you take away all this noise about the daily “case” count, what do we have left in Knox county?

    62 people in the hospital as of Friday.

    And so far as I can tell, nobody is asking some glaringly obvious questions, such as: out of that 62 people, how many were diagnosed AFTER they went to the hospital for such things as heart attacks, childbirth, strokes, accidents, drug overdoses, etc.? How many are truly covid cases?

    From what I see the hospitals are managing just fine so far, so how is extreme measures, including masks, to control children, teenagers, and society justified? Massive testing and case counts. How many of those advertised cases are non-symptom (not sick)?

    We are decimating our working and middle class, our businesses and jobs, and turning a whole generation of children into neurotics by telling them they can’t play together and they have to wear masks all the time when they have a literal 0.0% risk, far less risk than the normal flu. Think about what that lack of social interaction, lack of touching, and hiding behind masks is doing to young children psychologically?

    What I’m saying is, the cost of these counter-virus measures is higher than what we are truly considering. We aren’t really saving any lives, we are only trading lives, and drawing out the collateral damage for possibly years. Higher suicides, higher drug overdoses, higher cancer rates, higher depression rates, higher poverty rates, higher behavioral problems (those children when they get grown).

    Do we have an actual covid sickness and death pandemic, or do we just have a testing pandemic?

    • Bob Fischer says

      You clearly didn’t listen to the economist at the Board of health meeting. Our unemployment is at 6.5%. Well below the national average. Several sectors are way up. Bicycle stores are doing record business. Likewise with most businesses that have adjusted their business practices to better serve their customers. At least one restaurant is setting internal records and Pizza Palace is cooking as fast as they can to keep up with demand.

      Masking up and following the 5 core practices are working both economically and from a prevention standpoint for virtually everyone using them. My wife’s pre-school class has no problem following protocol. I’m not sure what children you would be refering to, unless parents are brainwashing kids to turn them into societal problems.

      The only sector that is down are restaurants/bars and the irony is that those owners that have attempted to strong-arm the board of health and over ride their decisions, are the one that have seen the worst of it. At least according to their level of crying. Suicides, drug overdoses, cancer, depression and behavioral problems are all due to our incompetent County Mayor refusing to acknowledge and fund solutions to these issues before the outbreak. Sales taxes are up, hence poverty is down. You are clearly under-informed on this issue and should consider broadening your sources.

      • Bob Fisher, no need to be condescending and patronizing; I’m only asking questions about reported statistics and whether or not they justify rules to manipulate the population. Just because I bring a different viewpoint to the table does not warrant a lecture from you.

        I ask particularly about the daily case counts because those seem to be what drives most of the policy decisions. But the times that I have listened to the briefings, I don’t hear reporters asking specific questions about the numbers, and I don’t see a breakdown on the county website, such as what percentage of the case count is actually not sick? Why don’t they track that? What if we knew that, for example: “100 people tested positive today. Of that number, only 5 had symptoms.” How would that change our perception of the community danger? What types of populations are being tested, i.e., mostly nursing homes and the vulnerable population? Or is testing mostly the result of contact tracing of healthy populations, such as colleges? Are we having a pandemic of basically healthy people? Why is there so much emphasis made on the daily case count rather than the daily hospitalization/ICU capacity? Why are we trying to control the behavior of the 80% of the population that is young(er) and healthy and mostly unaffected by the virus, as opposed to spending all our energy and resources on protecting and controlling the behavior of the 20% most vulnerable? Why spend millions of dollars trying to force healthy college kids to isolate, quarantine, force social distancing, and submit to invasive testing when the nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living places, sick people, overweight people need those resources more? Why not have a targeted approach to behavior manipulation? Seems to me like it would be way easier to control ~20% of high-risk people as opposed to trying to control 100% of the people. There are also questions about the reliability of the PCR tests in general coming up now, whether they are too sensitive or have a false positivity rate that’s too high. It’s just not adding up and it’s destroying our country, and I’m concerned.

        I understand that TN has enjoyed less economic/social fallout from this virus than other states, and I’m truly grateful to live in a state and county that has not become over-controlling. Those states that mitigate at all costs are doing far worse; they are killing the middle class. Finding data on Knox county businesses is a little difficult, but I’ve seen some articles about permanent business closures, somewhere around 25% across TN. It’s heartbreaking to me, and that’s a pretty low blow to criticize a business owner for “crying” because they are trying to protect their life’s work and savings (and are these policies based on meaningless increased covid counts? Or is it actual hospital saturation?). I don’t know if you are a small business owner or not, but your comment seems very unsympathetic.

        I’ve “broadened my scope” to look at a United Nations report on The Impact of COVID-19 on children (15 APR 2020): “…All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good. This is a universal crisis and, for some children, the impact will be lifelong. Moreover, the harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging
        for children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighborhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations.” — That was the opening paragraphs. There’s countless articles coming up now about the negative lasting impact of these mitigations and school closures on children.

        I get that you don’t like the mayor, but you can’t blame the mitigation deaths on him. You are wrong that there is not an increase of deaths in other areas directly the result of mitigation policies, but they will probably be lumped into the total covid death count by the CDC as covid-related deaths to increase the total advertised death count. This is another area that is not getting the scrutiny it needs. There is a statistician on twitter who posts all kinds of complex data surrounding the covid statistics. I don’t have a twitter account, but you can read what he says. His name is @EthicalSkeptic. He also has a website, I don’t fully understand many of his graphs; they are quite detailed, but I suspect that you would, Bob, since you are clearly more informed than I am.

        It’s Miller time.

        • Bob Fischer says

          I’ll start with your last point first, Glenn Jacob’s role in the mitigation of this disease and the amount of blame he carries for excess deaths due to his incompetence in that mitigation. Jacobs is clearly the driving factor in our explosion of deaths. When he took over from the City on May 2, the first thing he did was open all the bars, despite the fact that they weren’t supposed to open until at least 28 days after phase two was initiated. This in combination that the city was forbidden any enforcement capacity to anything covid related, allowed the disease a clear foothold to establish itself and spread through the community. On my commute home, there were 14 bars operating openly all month. There has been no attempt by the Mayor’s office to mitigate the spread of covid in any manner. His dereliction of duty is the single largest driver of covid in Knox County. His refusal to endorse mask usage is the single greatest political failure in Knox County history.

          How do we know this? Because Sweden had laid out a template for his protocol and we knew deaths would explode as they have. Do your homework, I’m not condescending, I just have no patience with those unwilling to keep up, do the research and examine what’s going on with an educated, open mind. Where were you back in April, May and June when the early debate was over whether or not a protocol dependent on infecting and killing as many citizens as possible was the topic of debate? I suspect you were among Jacobs brainwashed minions screaming about chicken little and how we only had five deaths and everything was an over reaction. Where were you in May and June when the efficacy studies results were started consistently showing the effectiveness of masks and how they were the single most effective way to reduce the spread of covid? I suspect you were quoting outdated and disproven theories on mask usage in this circumstance. Where were you in the early stages when Jacobs was lying about the American Revolution, Constitutional Law and the responsibilities of citizens and espousing some sovereign citizen nonsense? I suspect you were eating it up with a spoon, just as those that are seeing their businesses now suffer were doing. Here’s a news flash, no one wants to do business with people fighting for the right to infect and kill their customers. And those businesses that support the Mayor’s policies of death will continue to be called out on it. The present consumer action is not over, it is just beginning.

          As to your first paragraph of questions asking why we aren’t doing things your way. We currently have three mandated courses of action, mandatory public mask usage, an 11:00 alcohol curfew, and a 25 person limit on crowds. As has been stated repeatedly during the Board of Health meetings, these were chosen because of their shown effectiveness (including local numbers which have shown clear cause and effect) and because they were the least obtrusive measures the Board could take and still get positive results. As we know from the last meeting, due to non-compliance with these mandates there is a real concern over where we can go next as cases explode going into the holidays. The current spike will show in deaths around Thanksgiving. That’s the way trailing statistics and the progression of this disease works. How many people are you trying to kill for Christmas?

          You are attempting to remove this argument from the day to day realities of controlling a pandemic and turn it into some esoteric mind exercise that only a few philosophically inclined toward a bizarre political and economic school of thought can comprehend, when the reality is, the daily numbers and their statistical relevance are what’s driving this situation. The bizarre schools of thought have been advocated and instituted by Martin Danial, Glenn Jacobs and Justin Zachary, have been disproven and shown to not only not work, but shown that these three politicians are actively working against the interests of their constituency to the end result of actually killing random, innocent citizens in order to institute their policy. They now have Kyle Ward on tap, insisting that the Board of Health expose themselves to bio-terrorist attacks at the Commission’s behest. I suppose a firing squad would have been too obvious.

          To your points about high risk mitigation. The Health Department has been working on that since day one, and has thus far, done an outstanding job. As to healthy people driving this pandemic, based on what was reported at the Board of Health meeting, exactly the opposite is occurring, and in fact of the several theories on why testing rates are falling and who’s getting tested, it is clear that those with symptoms are driving test data. As to the most vulnerable, we are staying home and cutting back on spending. That is why businesses are failing. When faced with the choice of risking our lives, or doing business with a company that is actively supporting public policy that is clearly detrimental to the public’s well being, we are choosing to do business with businesses that support the Board of Health. Expect more bankruptcies if Mayor Jacobs continues his culture war. When political leaders risk their constituents livelihoods for political power and gain there are casualties. Expect the Mayors and Commissions contributors to be held accountable for their roles in the way county government is operating. Expect there to be winners as well as the dollars not spent on businesses in support of the Mayor, will be spent somewhere.

          As to your attempt to muddy the waters by switching a local discussion, (not to be condescending, but one would have thought the name Inside of Knoxville would have clued you), nice try. You have made an even more long winded statement that I usually make without saying anything. You spent your entire response treating unfounded supposition as fact and cross referenced what appears to be a Q-Anon site without tying it to anything resembling relevance.

          Finally, you are the second of the Mayor’s trolls I’ve heard in recent weeks ramble on and off into some pointless train of thought (the first was the woman in black waving around her fingers while going into a detailed civics lecture about the process of passing legislation who concluded, I don’t really understands how it works, but I’m sure its in there.) only to conclude you don’t know what you, yourself are talking about.

          I read statistics, daily reporting, analysis and scientific journals. While our body of knowledge builds every day, there is still more we don’t know, than what we do. As a result, some things are obvious, such as why uncontrolled transmission is a bad idea for the homeless community, why others are more nuanced, such as whether a ten o’clock curfew would work better than an eleven o’clock. The biggest problem I have with input from trolls is that they tend to ignore the real problems we’re facing and instead try to switch issues to such things as mask usage being an infringement of a right they can neither identify nor define.

          • Bob Fisher, why would you have such an overwhelmingly hostile and ugly response to simply a viewpoint that does not agree with yours? Why the name calling? Why the insults? The questions that I’ve brought up are perfectly valid. I know most of you on here probably agree with the current strategy, but I would think that you would welcome diverse viewpoints as opposed to attacking them, because diversity is the best thing to keep us from suffering from group-think, right? Sweden by the way is doing better now than its European counterparts who locked down their economies strictly, and are now facing more outbreaks and lockdowns. The actions that the globe has taken in response to this virus is unprecedented, and history may well show that we have totally over-reacted. All I’m saying is that it’s worth considering that our attempts to stop the virus are actually hurting us, because you cannot stop a global virus, you can only prolong it.

      • That economist ignored several key things like increasing costs of groceries and other necessary goods which have caused an increase in taxes received and he paid no attention to the fact that some industries have been decimated by these incredibly foolish lockdowns (see WHO on how incredibly damaging the lockdowns have been)

    • Sealion Harpooner says

      Not going to touch the epidemiological aspects of this post.

      But my favorite line on the pandemic and its economic fallout is that NOW people are worried about mental health, suicides, addiction, access to medical care, poverty, et al.

      The evidence that huge swaths of the population experience these ills as a fact of life during the day-to-day functioning of a “healthy” economy is just the cost of that sweet economic “freedom,” right? All this handwringing about the plight of poors will magically disappear as soon as the pandemic fades (not before well into 2021 at the current rate).

      From 2019 or before:

      “The suicide rate increased 33 percent from 1999 through 2017…”

      “Uninsured Rate Rose in 2018…”

      “…the number of drug overdose deaths was still four times higher in 2018 than in 1999.”

      “…many adults (40%) are not well prepared to withstand even small financial disruptions (e.g., could not pay for a $400 expense in cash)”

      And on, and on…

      No doubt that the most disenfranchised and vulnerable are going to suffer disproportionately during the economic downturn. Which is all the more reason to observe the 5 core actions and adhere to board of health mandates to bring the pandemic under control sooner.

    • It’s not about the children’s risk of dying because that’s not what masks are about. Masks are about the person wearing them not spreading covid while they are presymptomatic or asymptomatic. Children are fine. Having a child wear a little piece of cloth over their face is not damaging their psychological health. Now spreading covid to grandma and killing her because you didn’t wear a mask would be damaging.

      Last year Knox county schools closed for the flu and I think it was a wise decision.

      You’ve obviously never worked in a hospital either. Without a pandemic we’re not fine.

      • We cannot stop this virus we can only prolong its devastating effects. So, here is another strategy we might consider so this virus doesn’t cripple us for years:

        1) All high-risk teachers should teach on-line classes, or be able to sign up for limited furlough of some sort. They probably already do this. I don’t have any school-age children anymore.

        2) All children who have high-risk people living with them should take online classes. They probably already do this too.

        3) For all the rest, open the schools completely and normally, no reduced classes, no masks, no social distancing, and no testing. The virus should be exhausted in the school populations in some weeks, or months at the most, UNLESS mitigation efforts prolong this process forever.

        4) If you are a high-risk person, you should quarantine yourself, and seek out resources from the county. Assuming the county is applying most of its resources towards protecting the most vulnerable and not the most healthy.

        5) The county and state should direct most of the resources towards supporting hospitals, in addition to the high-risk population. I think there is federal help in that area as well.

        6) College kids, young people, healthy people should live normal lives, no masks, no social distancing and let the virus exhaust itself.

        7) Businesses should open full capacity, including restaurants, bars, theatres, etc., no masks, no social distancing. If you are a high-risk person you should not go to those places if you feel unsafe.

        8) Most of the testing should be performed at the nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc., to help protect that population.

        • KCS Employee says

          1) All KCS teachers were offered an un-paid administrative leave for the fall semester. Returning teachers were randomly assigned in-person, virtual, or a combination of the two. As well as having some classes outsourced to a Florida company despite capable and willing teachers in county on some subjects. The admin leave has not been extended to the Spring semester and all staff must report whether they are returning or effectively resigning their position by the end of October.

          2) Many do, some are unable to; that’s anecdotal.

          3) This seems possible when thinking about herd immunity, but just because K-12 students are less at risk of dying doesn’t mean that they are less susceptible to symptoms. Already I’ve had several students with confirmed cases, they are missing the mandatory 10 school days and then some to recover in some cases. As viruses spread exponentially, numerous students maybe be gone for weeks on end. At what point do individual schools shutdown (it’s based on attendance %) and when does KCS as a whole do this? Since “immunity” last for only 3 months, how many rounds of this must we go through in a school year? Will that not bring us back to a grinding halt with lack of universal childcare? What about teachers? (See #6.)

          4) A lot of concerned susceptible populations are doing this. The issue again is those with confirmed cases not quarantining, those who are symptomatic not being tested, and those who are asymptomatic we cannot trace due to lack on cooperation.

          5) There have been increases in funding to some extent via the CARES Act, yes.

          6) Again, we are unaware of the long-term health effects of this virus. While such populations are less susceptible to death, what about a lifetime of pulmonary issues? Diminished organ capacities? Unidentified pre-existing conditions which create complications when you thought you were “young and health?” Couple this with the fact that this is usually the population health insurers depend on to pay their premiums but who rarely use the full extent of medical services.

          7) Most consumers are drastically limiting their outings, partially due to decreases in income, and partially due to safety concerns. I’d be interested to see what restaurants are actually hitting their 50% interior capacity, very few from what I’ve heard anecdotally. My friends and I would be out to 3-4 breweries every week pre-COVID, the same group has been out to maybe 3 or 4 of them in the last 6 months we won’t resume until their is a real vaccine or treatment/major downward trend in the curve.

          8) All nursing home and assistant living residents, etc. should be tested every few days. That is correct.

          • KCS Employee, thank you for that excellent informative response. I believe that at the end of the day we will have to learn how to live with this virus in a way that is sustainable over a long period of time. We will have to develop consistent, more permanent strategies that would help reduce wild fluctuations in hospitalizations, such as happens on re-opening after a lockdown.

            1) Really, not much of what you describe in this section makes much sense to me, but I’m not in the system like you are I guess. Maybe it’s just me, but un-paid administrative leave doesn’t sound like a long-term strategy that would be very successful! Maybe the majority of teachers in Knox are pretty terrified of in-class teaching and so weren’t willing to do it, even if they fall into a very low-risk group. Maybe this accounts for the in-person lottery strategy of teaching you described. Wasn’t it widely circulated what the actual known risks are to the various age/physical fitness categories? Such as if you are healthy and 40 or younger you have a 99.9% chance of getting through it successfully? I don’t know what the average age or health of Knox teachers is, but this would have an impact, I agree. I don’t believe we can try to develop mitigation strategies based on unproven long-term side affects, if any, at this point. I also believe that much of the fear is the result of irresponsible media coverage.

            3) I’m not in agreement that immunity only lasts for 3 months. I don’t think there is scientific consensus on that yet. In any event, it sounds like the school is requiring children to be absent based on positive testing and contract tracing and not on actual sickness, like it is handled with the flu. How long does it take the flu to go around and then die off? Wouldn’t covid infections make the rounds in a similar way? I understand that schools close because of attendance, but if many or most of the kids are asymptomatic, there would be less outages than with the flu. In other words, take the same approach as with the flu?

            6) Each of us has to accept risk to live, there’s no getting around that. We can’t develop long-term strategies based on the same risk factors as pre-covid. I believe the media is largely responsible for many people being afraid to accept covid risk. I’ve never seen anything like the completely one-sided news reporting taking place today, especially the focus on testing numbers, rather than hospitalization capacities. It does sound scarier to say “there were 1,500 new covid cases today” as opposed to “there were 3 new covid hospitalizations, and 1 new death we’re sorry to report”.

            Again, thank you for your thoughtful feedback on this.

          • KCS Employee says

            1) No idea where you are getting the 99.9% statistic or how you are qualifying “getting through it successfully.” Please provide peer-reviewed sources for these claims. Is “getting through it successfully” just accounting for mortality rates or taking into account periods of extended symptoms, aggravations of pre-existing conditions, or creations of new ones?

            3) I’m not in agreement that there is any “immunity” at all, which is why I placed it in quotes here and there. I had a student who was initially told to quarantine but was allowed back the next day because of what her doctor termed “preferred immunity” (their words not mine and I’ve never found that term in any of my searches of medical literature I’ve done since). So that student could have been potentially spreading within those two weeks they were allowed back in the classroom. Yes, students are quarantined from positive tests and through contact tracing as they are potentially shedding the virus. We can’t compare this to the flu due to the asymptomatic nature of its spread, but it depends on the severity of the flu season. The reality is the flu never goes away, there are just opportune times in the year for its spread. Sometimes students are out as early as Thanksgiving break with severe symptoms, sometimes lasting well in May. I’m guilty of calling these “waves” as well, but the fact is COVID is likely a lingering epidemic with flare-ups. The key to control it is social and, when that isn’t effective, government response. Again I don’t know where you are finding that “many or most” of the kids are asymptomatic. We’ve managed to control the spread of possible cases at many schools in KCS, but due to HIPAA we don’t know if the students were symptomatic or asymptomatic during that time. Provide me with some peer-reviewed articles to that end. Also, provide me with ones that prove that across all K-12 age ranges (I teach high school students so their physiology is completely different from kindergartners).

            6) Most of us are highly risk-adverse, it’s why a lot people (myself included) have self-regulated our behaviors and took as many precautions as possible to limit exposure during the last 7 months. And no, we cannot approach things like we did pre-COVID, especially since we are square in the middle of this first wave. Not sure why you are advocating for a “return to normal but for these populations.”

            The rest is nonsense, throughout this process I’ve relied on this blog for local numbers, John Hopkins, and a number of other statistics aggregators. I don’t follow traditional media or listen to much on the new forms. Just based on the statistics and the nature of the spread, we should all be vigilant and practice all avoidance strategies possible until an effective treatment and vaccine are widely available.

            It betrays the thinking of a lot COVID hoaxers or truthers, who think that the populace can easily be swayed by “the media.” A lot of these same people fell prey to Birchite thinking during the Cold War, the Satanic Panics of the 80s, the Homosexual Agenda, NWO conspiracies, 9/11 trutherism, anti-vaxxers, and now they have Soros fantasies, QAnon, and a resurgent Cultural Bolshevist theory. Just because some people are highly susceptible to woo and propaganda doesn’t mean all of us are. As a educator, my primary concern is honing student’s critical thinking skills.

          • To point number six: we, in our house, can speak a little to the long-term effects of having the virus. We were exposed (we are almost certain- there was no testing available to us at all until the summer) in late February.

            We were both immunocompromised, and still/yet made the poor choice to go to Disney World with our kids. An elderly, coughing, sneezing old man sat next to my wife on the way home.

            The wife was completely bedridden and unable to do anything for 12-14 days. I myself was weakened as if I had a case of the flu. Nothing like her, but nothing good either.

            More importantly, we both have had very noticeable issues with fatigue since then. We literally feel a decade older than our mid-40s age, we can’t sustain normal adult activity without feeling like a truck hit us.

            If this is recovery, if this is our new normal life – then wear a damn mask! You do not want to experience this! Why can so many not understand, this is NOT like a normal virus? Our bodies are not evolved to fight this.

          • KCS Employee, Sorry for the delayed response here, but you brought up some points that I wanted to look into.

            1) I found that data on the CDC: . According to them, the age group 20 – 49 years has a 0.0002 IFR (current best estimate column). It also mentions that about 40% of the cases are asymptomatic. The thing is, not all of those asymptomatic cases are contagious, according to the CDC. This also got me wondering if the normal flu has a percentage of asymptomatic cases. Something to look into for the future.

            3) On this CDC website there was some interesting information about immunity and re-infection: They say, “6. Currently, 6 months after the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, there have been no confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection…”.

            6) If you don’t follow traditional media or listen to much on the news forms then I wonder where you came to know the following terms: hoaxers, truthers, birchite, satanic panics, homosexual agenda, NWO conspiracies, 9/11 trutherism, anit-vaxxers, soros, QAnon, and cultural bolshevist. I’m pretty sure that the Knoxville Guy, John Hopkins, and statistics aggregators don’t use these terms, so you know about them from reading or listening to something else that you haven’t mentioned, and that might have influence. Here’s a couple you left off: “long-haulers” and “immunity-faders”.

            My point about the news is that they tend to focus on the total case counts instead of the hospitalizations and deaths. The case counts contain alot of variances, such as the percentage of people who are not sick, or mildly sick. If most people think a total case count equals actual sickness, that’s misleading, in my opinion. They also do not like to emphasize that case numbers are directly proportional to testing. So if the cases are up drastically, that’s mostly because testing was up drastically. According to the CDC, total deaths from covid is declining steadily:

            So I ask again, are we having a pandemic of actual sickness and death? Or are we having a pandemic of testing?

        • Bob Fischer says

          To your eight points;

          1) We wouldn’t have enough teachers to operate in person schools. You are advocating for an on-line only school system. A system wide mask policy is working way better than expectations. Why would we switch to a system guaranteed to fail?

          2) Everyone is high risk. The lack of a co-morbidity does not ensure survival, it merely makes the individual struck down more of a surprising event.

          3) Operating the schools in this manner is a virtual guarantee that our hospitals would be overflowing with months. We are down to 38 ICU beds as I write this. A spike in deaths would follow exceeding our mortuaries capacity to handle the corpses. (You really should study more. These are basics.)

          4) Masks work. If it wasn’t for a strong bio-terrorist movement in this county, most issues surrounding the spread of covid in Knoxville become moot. In fact, the only way shown to replicate the elusive concept of herd immunity, thus far, is by wearing a mask. And many of us are choosing to self quarantine. My wife and I for example, would eat out generally twice a week before the restaurant owners decided to support a policy of infecting and killing their customers. We like eating out. We’re not wild about catching covid from a server who was dealing with the late night drunks from the night before.

          5) We certainly need a stockpile of PPE , testing supplies and therapeutics, but the federal help you are referring to was the ACA, or Obamacare, and Tennessee opted out of that years ago because Governor Haslam said we could come up with a better plan. Since then, we have passed on over 15.6 billion in federal funds while we come up with that better plan. I’m sure we’ll get one any day though.

          6) You are advocating the infection of all and the destruction of the family unit. Clearly, you were not raised to be accountable for your behavior.

          7) That is what’s happening. And we know from the curfew and resulting smaller crowds on the strip that regulation works at reducing the spread of covid. In fact, the major obstacle in measuring the full effect of what masking and social distancing could possibly do is the influence of the bio-terrorist movement and their undermining of the Board of Health efforts to keep this disease under control. At risk people aren’t going out. We have the money. That’s why restaurants, some anyway, are complaining about declining revenue. If restaurant owners don’t band together as a group in support of the Board of Health, several will be out of business by Christmas. It is their choice as to whose policies they support, but it is us old, compromised people that their business plans are based on. They don’t care about us, so it’s not fair that we be expected to risk our well-being to keep them in business.

          8) That is current policy in Knoxville area assisted living facilities. At least the one’s I’m familiar with. You’re late to the party.

          9) You keep spelling my name wrong. For God’s sake, it’s right in front of you and if you can’t be bothered to spell something as simple as a common name correctly, why would anyone listen to your unsupported theories on covid?

        • KCS Employee says

          1) So we get to live, for the most part, what about that quality of life? Again, I am not necessarily afraid I am going to die, but I’d rather not develop a life-long, chronic condition half-way through it. Unless you are willing to offer me the one thing that so many of us actually want (67% at last polling): universal healthcare. So I’ll continue to observe the recommendations of scientists and health professionals until the consensus changes.

          By that 3 out of 5 are symptomatic, 2 out of 5 are asymptomatic. Then what percentage of those asymptomatic aren’t spreading? And if we don’t know that, then we have to continue to assume that everyone is a current carrier. The fact that mortality rates are so low, combined with asymptomatic spread means that this virus will spread faster and further than more debilitating diseases like the flu or even the common cold.

          3) I searched several times and ways for the information you claim to quote on that page, never found it. I did find this though: “The risk of reinfection may be lower in the first 3 months after initial infection…”

          and “the probability of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection is expected to increase with time after recovery from initial infection due to waning immunity and possibly genetic drift. Risk of reinfection depends on the likelihood of re-exposure to infectious cases of COVID-19.”

          Re-exposure…meaning being around 1500 potential carriers every day in my case, 35 in a 400 sqft classroom at a time, unmasked, and breathing recirculated air if you had your way.

          6) Let me clarify, I don’t pay attention to traditional or alt forms of media when it comes to pandemic coverage. As to where I heard the other terms, I guess that’s a product of a little thing called education and human interaction.

          Again, the novel nature of this virus is that you can be feeling perfectly fine and still cause devastation to others with your (in)actions.

          So your whole goal is to restate a talking point that even Trump abandoned months ago? “More tests means more cases. Bad news, folks.” Gotcha.

          • Hello KCS EMPLOYEE,

            1) Everyone has to gauge their own risk aversions and how safe they feel going into public vs. the depression and isolation one might feel staying apart. I know you do that already. But the cost is particularly high for single people and elderly who have not been able to receive visitors. As to the fear of long-term illnesses, please provide your peer-reviewed studies of life-long debilitations as the result of contracting this virus.

            The same website said that about 25% of asymptomatic people are not infectious. The falling mortality rate does raise some questions, such as is the virus attenuating; getting weaker? Are the patients receiving a specific type of treatment? What treatments are they getting? Are younger people driving the new hospitalizations and so can recover better? Are the elderly more protected now than they were? This is a disease affecting mostly elderly and sick or obese, so would that mean that we should start planning for more long-term sustainable mitigation strategies that don’t involve such drastic social control? We have always lived in a world full of virus and bacteria where we are bombarded every day, not only with this new virus but all kinds of stuff, I’m sure you know that. In my opinion it’s not very realistic to hold all the non-sick people accountable for possibly spreading any virus, or cold, or flu, for any length of time into the future. I mean, how do you continue to contact trace, quarantine, and control healthy people? If we can get some very good treatments, and the death count continues to drop, I would think we should be able to start treating this more like the flu in terms of social rules. There have been some very promising reports coming out about simple Vitamin D and Zinc as treatments.

            3) To be honest, I believe the CDC has changed the content of the website because I can’t find that reference now either. I have read posts and comments from numerous other people about CDC changing content and even data sets. It says it was last updated 10/19/2020, but that doesn’t make sense since I made that post on 10/21/2020…. But it was there, I swear. The site was mostly talking about the testing was so sensitive it was picking up bits of the virus and returning positive within the 3 months of first infection, giving a false indication, and so the test was not recommended to be used in determining length of quarantine. Many epidemiologists say covid-19 is in the corona family, and immunity with others in this group can last up to 10 years. But as far as I can see, there is no evidence one way or the other at this point.

            Here’s another one that admits they don’t know much about how long immunity lasts: . Here’s the opening statement:

            “At this time, we have limited information about reinfections with the virus that causes COVID-19. This is a new virus, and CDC is actively working to learn more. We will provide updates as they become available. Data to date show that a person who has had and recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis. This means that if the person who has recovered from COVID-19 is retested within 3 months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are not spreading COVID-19.

            There are no confirmed reports to date of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within 3 months of initial infection. However, additional research is ongoing. Therefore, if a person who has recovered from COVID-19 has new symptoms of COVID-19, the person may need an evaluation for reinfection, especially if the person has had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. The person should isolate and contact a healthcare provider to be evaluated for other causes of their symptoms, and possibly retested.”

            6) Well then in future perhaps we can agree to leave off with the inflammatory terms and just interact politely.

        • KCS Employee says

          1) The potential is there, obviously it would take a generation to determine life-long complications, but since you asked:

          “COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.”

          “Given the well-documented involvement of the circulatory system in COVID-19, including small, moderate and large-sized veins and arteries, coupled with robust immune and resulting local and systemic inflammatory responses, one would anticipate a prolonged recovery period and potentially long-term cardiovascular effects.”

          “The risk of heart damage may not be limited to older and middle-aged adults. For example, young adults with COVID-19, including athletes, can also suffer from myocarditis. Severe heart damage has occurred in young, healthy people, but is rare. There may be more cases of mild effects of COVID-19 on the heart that can be diagnosed with special imaging tests, including in younger people with mild or minimal symptoms; however, the long-term significance of these mild effects on the heart are unknown.”

          “…an increased incidence of heart failure as a major sequela of COVID-19 is of concern, with considerable potential implications for the general population of older adults with multimorbidity, as well as for younger previously healthy patients, including athletes.”

          “In a study of 55 patients with COVID-19, at 3 months after discharge, 35 (64%) had persistent symptoms and 39 (71%) had radiologic abnormalities consistent with pulmonary dysfunction such as interstitial thickening and evidence of fibrosis. Three months after discharge, 25% of patients had decreased diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide.”

          “The extent and severity of the long term respiratory complications of covid-19 infection remain to be seen, but emerging data indicate that many patients experience persistent respiratory symptoms months after their initial illness.”

          So 75% are still infectious, I’ll treat them as such as well as the 25% who are not. Great to know. No one is asking for lockdowns and masks forever, just until we have effective treatments and vaccines while also practicing mitigation strategies.

          We are 7 months into this pandemic, with admitted public health and economic effects. But compare that to upwards of 4 years of home-front rationing during WWII. Not to sound like a conservative, but what happened to the social responsibility older generations exhibited? Or has that all be replaced by unending loyalty to the market?

          6) No thanks, I call out bad thinking when my students do it or when my peers do. I’ll also point out similarities between fringe theories when I see them, especially when the “solutions” put my health at potential risk.

  5. Bob Fischer says

    When taking UT numbers apart it is important to note the strip’s curfew and group testing. When considering the effects of those two actions, UT’s number appear about on track with reality. I don’t think folks understand just how consistently bad, and I mean really bad, the Strip was before the curfew. I rode home through there every night. The curfew knocked things down, and enforcement/education have knocked things down even more. Testing and protocols are both better on campus than anywhere else in town. They are by no means perfect, but they show what can be done with sensible regulation and a mask policy that is not universally ignored by 40% of a population. There’s no doubt they could do better, but they are the community leaders in covid response. Slow as this response may be.

  6. And then there’s Fall Break where the people with money take their privileged children out of state then return with god knows what. Covid regs are treated like traffic laws, they seem to apply to everyone else but them. Look for more Covid spikes coming soon in the next 3 weeks.

  7. The Missouri game numbers showed rather peculiarly. Of the three theories that I know of about what drives the numbers, raw data related to number of tests, fear/concern driven testing (symptoms, spread events etc), and spreader events, it would appear a broader picture may be emerging. It would seem as if one would have to pull elements from all three theories, and in fact would seem to suggest that inconsistencies in testing numbers are as related to fundamental human nature considerations as well as purely scientific parameters. That being said, a picture is emerging on both what sort of activities drive spread at what rate, and what reasonable measures to mitigate these circumstances would look like.

    Without having access to a bar survey during the South Carolina game, nor a gathering survey, it would appear small groups, a lot of small groups as well as some probable lapses in protocol at establishments catering to football viewing crowds drove the case count from a spreader perspective. We are a football town and it’s reasonable to expect people to get out and watch the game. Likewise, it’s reasonable to expect that many of these people may have concerns about being out in the crowd and expect that concern to drive an increased amount of testing. Likewise, it’s reasonable to deduce that increased activity and opportunity to spread covid will indeed drive up case counts and that a variety of reasons related to this activity, beyond fear and symptoms, would lead people to get tested. In other words, when looking at a singular event from a step back, it is reasonable to assume that a number of factors would drive testing, and as a result, an increase in active cases.

    This could be an indication of actual number of increased cases, or it might just indicate some vectors entering new demographics, that heretofore had been under tested, for whatever reason. It is a good thing that a variety of intelligent people are drawing hypothesis from local data and are looking forward to the best ways to mitigate future spread. As we move forward, we should feel alternately blessed and concerned that we, as a community, have some baseline numbers to draw conclusions from. We must be wary and diligent in adding more potential spreader events to our area’s activities. It is currently being shown that mask usage acts as essential herd immunity and it seems we could mitigate any damage covid is likely to do by instituting a strong mask policy. We should consider a mask ordinance with consequence, perhaps a small fine of a brief stint in jail, to address this issue. The sad fact is, we just aren’t getting the response we need from asking for voluntary mask usage. Mandating mask usage is key to battling this disease.

    As to Missouri numbers, it looks like they were below what I would have expected, and that it may well be reasonable to expect that a strong mask policy, like UT’s, may well be effective in the goal of reopening athletics. We have to go back too late August for a three day comparable to the Missouri numbers. This single data point doesn’t mean much in and of itself, but as we track the effects of football games to increased cases down the road, it should give us a good baseline from which to make decisions. The good news about identifying multiple factors affecting testing and active cases is that we have several different avenues by which to improve the accuracy of our numbers, the bad news is that one must take a broad based approach to step back and determine what’s actually happening, which can be a challenge to sort out.

    I’m going to end with an observation I’m hearing more and more of. By far, the most discouraging aspect of this entire pandemic thus far is that it has exposed the absolute lack of compassion and empathy we, as a community, have for our fellow man and Knox County neighbors. It’s one thing to decide to risk one’s own health in search of groceries, but my best friend has pancreatic cancer and his parents are in their mid-nineties. What happens when I get exposed at Krogers, go over to help him with yard work and sneeze? Or expose my in laws? Or attempt to go see my Dad one more time before he passes? I’m not just making decisions that affect my health, I’m making decisions that affect a whole group of people every time I chance going into a place of business that doesn’t require masks. If I seem unsympathetic to those going bankrupt, it’s because between bankruptcy that I’m being blamed for and the death that they potentially bring to my circle of acquaintance, they can overcome bankruptcy, and hopefully become a better person, whereas the death that I would bring from their business is permanent. And the death I would bring means dying alone and denying mourners the opportunity to grieve. I don’t think ease in finding salt free canned vegetables is worth it.

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