COVID-19: 10/20/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, KCS, Health Department Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 10.20.2020 (Source:

Welcome to another beautiful day. We enjoyed a gorgeous sunrise this morning, the sun shimmering through the fog over the Tennessee River as the mountains loomed in the distance. The fog moved into the city, encircling us. It was easy to imagine for a few minutes that all was well in the small cocoon it formed. It’s important to have some of those moments. I hope you find yours.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 3,317 new cases of COVID-19, yesterday, setting a new single-day high since the beginning of the pandemic. Reported testing, as you might expect, also surged. Total counts now include 220,566 confirmed cases, 11,495 probable cases. 205,832 people have recovered and 11,812 Tennesseans remain ill.

The state reported 13 additional deaths, bringing the total to 2,922 who have died in the state from COVID-19. The seven-day average for cases is 2,055 per day, the highest it has been since August 2. Yesterday’s case number ranked fourth in the country for the day. The average number of daily deaths in the state is now 22.

41 COVID-positive Tennesseans were admitted to the hospital, yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 9,618 hospitalizations. After a single day drop, the hospital census resumed its climb to its highest recent point, with 1,259 hospitalized, 377 of these in ICUs, and 173 on ventilators. Hospitals are now operating at 83% capacity for rooms, 88% capacity for ICU beds, and 31% capacity for ventilators.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 10.20.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

The number of reported tests surged in the state, yesterday, to over 42,000, the fifth highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic which, to some degree, explains the higher daily number. Even with the larger pool of tests, however, the state reported an increase in positive test result rates to 8.31%. Johns Hopkins is reporting an 8.4% average rate over the last seven days.

Knox County Daily Cases 10.20.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County News:

The Knox County Health Department reported 143 new cases today, likely reflecting in part the increase testing reported yesterday by the state. It marks the third consecutive day over 100 cases and is the second highest daily total for the month to this point. Totals for cases in the county have now reached 11,857 confirmed cases, 561 probable cases and 10,952 recovered.

The numbers of concern for the county include 1,371 active cases, easily the highest that number has been since the most recent adjustment of the calculation for the number. Also of concern, Knox County resident, COVID-positive hospitalizations increased to 68 and have remained near the largest number reported for the last week. The current high mark for a single day was 70, set a week ago today.

For the second consecutive day, no additional deaths were reported.

Also in the local news, in their work session yesterday the Knox County Commission took up two resolutions impacting the Board of Health. One would require the body to meet in person and to  have an unlimited public forum each time. That resolution moved forward to a possible vote next week, with the in-person meeting requirement removed.

The second proposed formation of advisory committee on health and well-being. Commissioner Larson questioned whether making government larger was the best path forward, while Dr. Buchanan delivered a statement saying she felt it would duplicate the function of the Board of Health and noted she had not been contacted by a number of Commission members for any advice and she would welcome that.

The topic of dissolving the Board of Health was also discussed and seemed to have some support. The representative from the law office noted that this would mean that control of the Knox County response to the pandemic would revert to Dr. Buchanan, from whom it was removed by an opinion from the same law office.

Knox County Health Department Briefing:

Dr. Buchanan led today’s briefing, expressing gratitude to those engaged in health education. She reported the above numbers and said hospitalizations were a concern. She reminded everyone that regional numbers are critical and that those will be reported tomorrow. She asked that everyone continue following the core actions and get a flu shot.


  • Are there any trends or age groups driving the current increases? No, it is across the community and age groups.
  • Are you concerned about hospitalizations? Absolutely. Please get tested if you have been exposed and isolate.
  • At what point would the Health Department recommend further action? We’ll talk about it next week. We’ll look at multiple sets of data, but we are concerned.
  • Has an infectious dose level been established? Not that I know of?
  • What are your thoughts on a new county-level advisory board? I have concerns regarding duplication.
  • Has KCHD been given any updates about vaccine availability? No, we hear what you hear – late November, December, first of the year.
  • It has been announced that Commissioner Biggs will convene a meeting, including you, on Thursday. What should we expect? It is his meeting and I will be there to listen and learn.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 10.20.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee)

University of Tennessee News:

The University is reporting 40 active cases, including 36 students and 4 employees. There were ten new cases reported this morning. Isolation/quarantine numbers remain low relative to previous highs at 286. Of these, 28 are employees, 77 are on-campus students and 181 are off-campus students. No additional clusters were reported.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 10.20.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County School System returned to reporting after fall break and the initial report noted 69 active cases, including 49 students and 20 staff members. It marks a significant increase in the number of currently positive students, as 33 were reported before break. The number of ill staff remained the same.

423 students and staff have recovered, while 518 are in isolation or quarantine. Of the 518, 452 are students and 66 are staff. This reflects a significant drop from the 815 in quarantine or isolation going into the break. Metrics for student and faculty attendance, plus cafeteria and bus staff attendance are reported as green, while custodial staff is reported as yellow and substitute availability remains red, as it has since the beginning of the year.

All schools are currently open to in-person learning.


  1. Chris Eaker says

    Apparently this meeting with Dr. Buchanan is going to take place at Casen’s Steakhouse. The fine doctor should NOT go to any meeting with anyone at Casen’s Steakhouse. They have posted on their Facebook today that they will not require masks for anyone in their restaurant, including their employees!

  2. Herd immunity. All I can say we need this gone and quick

    • We do need the pandemic gone, but unfortunately “quick” is not possible at this point. “Herd immunity” is not the solution. Experts say it is both ineffective and dangerous. Here is a recent statement from the WHO director:
      “Herd immunity is a “concept used for vaccination, not pandemic control. Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It is scientifically and ethically problematic. Letting the virus circulate unchecked, therefore, means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death.”

  3. I second what Chris said. This is not by accident and I cannot believe the nerve of the commissioners and the Mayor. We need her safe and healthy.

  4. Mayor needs to attend to the shenanigans going on at the office and quit being a stubborn mule regarding the health and safety of people. Let him go sit in a room full of people without masks blowing all that hot air around. Geesh.

  5. John Winbigler says

    Herd immunity is being promoted only by charlatans and people with herd mentality, i.e., the inability to process information and think logically for themselves. An attempt to reach herd immunity without a vaccine would result in millions of deaths in the U.S. alone and would be a crime against humanity.

  6. Bob Fischer says

    Apparently there is no herd immunity with covid19. Sweden still hasn’t left its first wave, they aren’t even updating their numbers. Natural immunity seems to last four months, give or take, so that would indicate that even if a successful vaccine is developed it must be administered 2-3 times a years in what appears to be a two shot sequence.

    To the little girl whose mom was waving around a dirty mask at last night’s commission meeting. Please talk to someone at your school about getting clean masks for your school day. It’s not right for a parent to withhold fundamental hygiene products from a child.

    Allowing this virus to spread and take hold in Knox County is not serving a greater good, it is simply accepting your role as a participant in an action to infect, hospitalize, and kill as many of your fellow Knox Countians as possible. If you ever wondered on which side you would have come down on in Germany in 1938, look around yourself. Look at what you’re doing. Look at who you are electing to office and what they’re doing with their positions of leadership. To what end does their leadership serve, centralizing power in an autocratic state of county government, or serving the needs of their constituency? You are doing what you would have been doing in Germany in 1938.

    Finally, wear a mask and don’t go places people aren’t wearing them. Spend your money with people working toward solutions. Be kind. The fact of the matter is societal change is difficult, and while the act of wearing a mask is a relatively minor distraction, remembering to have a mask, washing and keeping your masks clean, arranging your schedule around places that require masks (hard to believe those old boys at Kroger haven’t noticed the lines at Trader Joes and Costco), and the loss, hopefully temporary, of businesses that one was previously comfortable at, all make masking more difficult. We all get that. On the other hand, masking works, and if we would all work together, we could have our new cases under control by Christmas, and see a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths by the new year.

    Don’t forget to wash your hands and social distance. Wear a mask. Look out for your loved ones. Don’t confuse living in trying times with a loss of hope. There is hope. Every time you see someone in a mask, they are working for you, whether or not you know them. Most people care. Let’s build on that. Be safe. Wear a mask.

    • I agree with everything you’ve said, However, it is sometimes impossible not go somewhere where not everyone is masked. In my case, yesterday I had to go to the post office to mail to packages. While I was in line, a man came in without a mask and also got in line. At this point, that is just plain wrong and businesses need to start refusing service to people not wearing masks. It helps protect their employees and other people at the business.

      • I completely agree and was thinking about this again a few minutes ago. It’s simple. Many going unmasked keep citing laws, freedoms, constitution, etc. If every business made it a company policy that a mask is mandatory during pandemic or severe health concern, then that solves that. Sorry, company policy, you must have a mask. It really bothers me that businesses and politicians are catering to the minority in this. It, also, bothers me that the businesses and politicians are siding with money rather that our health concerns.

      • Dean Schultz says

        A Post Office cannot refuse service for any reason. And if they do they violate a person’s rights regardless of what is before us today

        • Sealion Harpooner says

          The USPS operates (like many government services) under what’s called a “universal service obligation.” It has nothing to do with individual rights and everything to do with governmental responsibilities. So if the Post was to deny service without cause (legitimate causes would include dangerous conditions or hostile parties) they would have “failed to meet its obligations,” legally speaking. It’s a breach of contract not “violated rights.” This pandemic is definitely exposing some of these blowhards walking around talking about “muh rites and freeze peach.”

          • The univeral service obligation is to deliver to every address in the USA and has nothing to do with who they serve at the counter. As a former postat employee and window clerk, we turned away people all the time for various reasons. Not wearing a mask in a pandemic could be one of those reasons. Other states are not allowing people into post offices without masks. The problem is Tennessee and our governor not believing in science.

          • Sealion Harpooner says

            Thanks for the clarification, I assumed it applied to accepting post as well. Definitely agree that refusal to wear a mask would fall under those “dangerous conditions” for employees mentioned above. Full agreement that we have failures of leadership from the county to the state to the federal level at this point. I think Kincannon, City Council, and KPD have done the best they can given their jurisdiction and the convoluted (one might say activist) interpretation of the Tennessee Pledge by the county law office.

    • John Winbigler says

      Well said! I couldn’t agree more.

    • Love the German analogy Bobby F. It’s obvious that there’s a clear parallel between 1938 Germany, with its invasion and annexation of surrounding countries, and a democratically elected county mayor seeking to balance economic health and public health in an unprecedented health crisis.

      I’ll give you some points for creativity though.

      • Sealion Harpooner says

        Not on board with the ‘38 analogy either, but if by “balance economic and public health” you mean “slavishly follow an ideology to the detriment of both community health and attempts at economic recovery,” you might be right there.

        Jacobs is a proponent of Austria Economics (the purview of neckbeards, incels, crypto nerds, the alt-lite/right, and others who have at one point or another uttered the phrase: “Well actually, it’s called hebephilia…”) and wears it like it’s a badge of honor.

        The central component of Austrian Economics is that it is a priori, meaning it disregards all material conditions when forming policy. So when data and evidence is presented to or by the BoH, the man ignores it and his voting record confirms that. Good thing he represents only one vote in that regard and that health officials/reps who spend their careers dealing with reality outnumber him every time

        • Man, you have trouble with speaking the truth for someone who claims to harpoon sea lions.

          • Sealion Harpooner says

            Find a lie.

            Or you just mad that I called one of your paper tiger crews out?

            Stick to Reddit or 4chan until you’ve got that data, or you doing some deep dives on 8kun?


          • Sealion Harpooner is very big into misusing economic terms, deriding the free market and making up his own data that does not remotely reflect reality; luckily, in this particular screed, he’s only guilty of two of these offenses!

          • Sealion Harpooner says

            Here’s an apropos term for you and your sock account (you both sound like totally indistinguishable Lolbertarian NPCs so forgive me if you’re actually two separate semi-sapient beings):


      • Bob Fischer says

        It’s sort of like the Mayor stripping the city of its power to respond to covid and trying to consolidate that power into the office of County Mayor. It was pretty astute of you to notice that parallel, as well as the one where legitimate government agencies from the various conquered territories were dissolved in order to centralize power. Not to mention the round-up of the perceived weaker members of society in an effort to use and expose them to various government experiments resulting in a large number of deaths.

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