COVID-19: 10/21/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, KCS)

Tennessee Daily Cases 10.21.2020 (Source:

Downtown Knoxville never looked more like London than it does at this moment. That’s because, as I write, no buildings are visible, just a thick soup of fog obstructing everything. It’s kind of cozy if you don’t have to drive a car. I think I’ll just imagine that I’m writing in a posh London flat and that Big Ben is lurking just out of my sight line. It’s not quite like being there, but take what you can get, right?

State News:

Yesterday, the state of Tennessee reported 1,508 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the totals to 221,884 confirmed cases and 11,685 probable cases. 208,182 people have recovered and 10,750 remain ill.

The state reported an additional 30 deaths for the day, bringing the state total to 2,952 Tennesseans who have died of the illness. The seven-day average for cases is 2,105, the highest it has been since August 2. The seven-day average for deaths in the state is currently 22 deaths per day. The number of daily deaths has remained mostly in the 20s since early August.

63 additional COVID-positive Tennesseans were admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 9,681 hospitalized at some point. Current hospitalizations dropped by 13 to 1,246, remaining near the top number reported for the last six weeks. Both ICU totals and ventilator totals dropped slightly, as well, to 366 and 164 respectively.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 10.21.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

The number of reported tests dropped dramatically from the previous day – from 42,000 to about 13,200. The state reported an eye-popping 11.29% positive test result rate for the group, while Johns Hopkins University is reporting a seven-day test positivity average of 8.6%. The average has increased steadily for almost a month, indicating increasing community spread across the state.

Knox County Daily Cases 10.21.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Knox County News:

Knox County is reporting 69 additional cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the case totals to 11,926 confirmed and 566 probable cases. 11,097 are considered inactive and 1,298 Knox County residents remain ill. 64 COVID-positive Knox County residents remain in the hospital, a number close to our high of 70 set on October 13, but four lower than yesterday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 441 people have been hospitalized with the virus. Two additional deaths were reported yesterday, each over the age of 75.

Benchmarks were updated today and some shifts were reflected there. The first benchmark, for sustained reduction or stability in new cases remained red, as cases have increased in the most recent period. The benchmark for testing remained yellow and for public health response (contact tracing, etc), it remained green. For hospital capacity, it remained yellow. For sustained or decreased death rate, the indicator changed from green to yellow, as there has been a recent increase in deaths.

Positive test rates were also increased on the website. The seven day average increased from an alarming 9.76% average a week ago to a much worse current average of 12.75%. The number is about 50% higher than the state average, which is, itself, at an alarming number.

A Sweetwater nursing home has reported 11 deaths and 12 active cases among residents. The meeting with County Commissioner Biggs and Dr. Buchanan has been moved from Casen’s Steakhouse after the restaurant posted strongly worded statements criticizing the Health Department and committing to refusing to force employees and patrons to wear masks. The meeting will now be private.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 10.21.2020

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee is reporting 47 active cases, remaining far below previous numbers, but increasing slightly for the last three days. 1,627 students and staff have recovered. 9 new cases affiliated with the University were reported yesterday.

311 students (280) and staff (31) were reported to be in isolation or quarantine. This number has also increased each of the last three days, but remains dramatically below numbers from early last month. No additional clusters were reported and positive test results springing from the pooled testing being incorporated in student resident halls remain very small.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 10.21.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County School system is reporting 63 active cases, including 46 students and 17 staff members. The reported number is down by six from yesterday. 432 students and staff have recovered from the illness. 395 students and 59 staff remain in quarantine or isolation, for a total of 454. The number reflects a drop of 64 from yesterday.

The only metrics of concern are the same or improved from yesterday. Custodial availability remains yellow, while substitute availability has shifted from red to yellow for the first time this year. Fulton football activities have been cancelled for two weeks due to COVID-19 concerns. The cancellation includes the school’s next two games.


  1. I find my mind wandering back to my mom’s back porch and reminiscing about conversations I was privileged to have with my step-dad. ( ) While it’s true most of his life was classified, he was quite open about process and how various tribal, political and terrorist organizations functioned. He understood not only propaganda but the day to day operations of a variety of quasi governmental operations. And he was willing to share his knowledge. I don’t think he would be surprised to see American politics degenerate from class warfare to tribal/cultural warfare, and in fact, would probably acknowledge that the two were natural handmaidens once society begins to degenerate to the point where only self serving actions are deemed legitimate by any governmental body. I find myself going back to the back porch and reliving these conversations in my attempts to figure out just what is going on in Knoxville. We live in strange and dangerous times indeed.

    When Kyle Ward announced at the commission meeting that both his wife and mother-in-law were high risk and that he was prepared to sacrifice them for the sake of not wearing masks, I was taken quite aback. The concept of live human sacrifice for the perceived greater public good went out with the Salem Witch Trials, or so I had thought, and continued only with the death penalty after due process and conviction within our criminal justice system, again, or so I had thought. I’m still trying to process this comment at the level in which it was presented and wonder just exactly what it means for the community at large. I’m not sure what to think, but I believe it would be a mistake to pretend what is going on within commission somehow serves the greater good. At some point, we must confront this and call it for what it is. Covid will be with us for the foreseeable future.

    I’ve tried to step back and consider and learn from some of the thoughtful opinions on just how our various statistical information is related and how to tie it to a bigger picture. I have found KnoxUrbanGuy’s perspective, as well as the Doctor who advanced the concern/fear theory of test driven behavior to be most interesting and perceptive. Lack of long term data points notwithstanding, when one pulls out historical events (say 4th of July) and applies them to not only a daily blip, but a long term trend interesting patterns of results occur. Long term trends can build from short term events in a directly corollary manner. Quirks in data collection, like this weeks testing delay(?), where out of the blue tests start taking a day or two longer, can put together series of numbers in orderly fashion, that seemed haphazard before the adjustments. It’s heady stuff, probably more suited to people more qualified than I, but it is fascinating nonetheless. I find it fascinating that these variables all come together in as orderly manner as they do and somehow paint a pretty accurate picture of where we are. Finding truth is infinitely more difficult than speaking it.

    We have a two week lull before our next home game and round of commission meetings show up in our numbers. School reopening should have an effect on both KCS and overall numbers, but to what degree, I have no idea. Our case count indicates more community spread based simply on more active cases floating around our community. Pushback from the anti-mask tribe seems to be on the rise. There is the distinct possibility that individual businesses may be a measurable factor in our next few weeks numbers. The realities of our situation would seem to indicate that vigilance in adhering to the five core actions would be the order of the day.

    Please remember to consider that our battle against covid is a collective effort not an individual accomplishment. You do not win if you contract an asymptomatic case of covid and pass it on to a plethora of people. You are simply part of a larger loss. Look out for your family. Look out for your friends. Look out for your neighbors and look out for those counting on your participation for their well being. Practice the five core habits. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Cherish each day and look for the good in the world. Smile underneath your mask. People can still tell.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      In order for people to know you are one person and not multiple people, please use only one online name.

      • Bob Fischer says

        Okay, my name thing on my computer is acting up, please feel free to edit anything I write as you see fit. It’s happened twice and I’m not sure why.

  2. concerned parent 2 says

    Those 7-day test positive rates are worrisome (8.6% in TN, 12.75% in Knox Co) when the WHO has stated that, when sufficient tests are given to calculate reliable values, 5% is “too high” and 3% and lower is necessary to halt spread.

    Alan, can you tell when the respective peak 7-day avgs occurred in state and county and when the rates were most recently just higher than currently?

    Thanks again for taking the time to help us find data and assess risk, Alan.

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