COVID-19: 10/29/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, KCS and the Knox County Health Department Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: TN.gov)

I hope you are keeping dry and safe on this rainy day. My heart goes out to the folks on the gulf coast who have had more than their share of hurricane misery this fall. It’s weird to be at home with the kids who have a two-hour rain delay for virtual school when the walk down the hallway is pretty dry, as far as I know. Strange times.

State News:

The state of Tennessee reported 2,446 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the pandemic totals to 240,198 confirmed cases and 14,022 probable cases. Of these, 224,822 are considered inactive, while 12,135 remain active. The seven-day average for new cases in the state is 2,623.

34 deaths were reported for the day, bringing the total deaths from COVID-19 to 3,241. The seven-day average for deaths is 39 per day. Yesterday the state tied for seventh highest daily death rate in the U.S.

78 additional COVID-positive Tennesseans were admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 10,140 hospitalizations in the state. As I stated yesterday, I am publishing hospital totals from two days earlier going forward, as the initial numbers are often revised after publication and are therefore misleading on publication. As of 10/27, there were 1,360 COVID-positive Tennesseans in the hospital. Of these, 408 are in ICUs and 182 are on ventilators. Each of these numbers have gotten quickly worse over the last six weeks and are at or near their pandemic peaks.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rate 10.29.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Reported testing numbers for the day rebounded slightly off the low number the previous day and were reported at 22,000, bringing the pandemic total testing to just under 3.6 million in the state. The positive test rate for the day was reported at 10.68%. Johns Hopkins University reports a seven-day average positive rate of 9.5%, a slight improvement over the previous day.

Knox County Daily Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Local News:

The Knox County Health Department is reporting 75 new cases today, the lowest daily number in the last 8 days. The website initially published a much higher number, but it was an error. Unfortunately, it was up long enough for at least one news site to run the number as a banner headline. With the additional cases, the total number of confirmed cases for the county is 12,903 confirmed and 635 probable cases.

There are currently 1,431 Knox County residents with active cases of COVID-19. No additional deaths were reported, leaving that total at 103.

63 are currently hospitalized, down six from yesterday’s near-record total. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 468 COVID-positive Knox County residents have been hospitalized. The state is reported a seven-day positive test average of 11.4% for the county, up significantly from the previously reported average of 8.9%.

I thought a statement made by Dr. Buchanan in last night’s Board of Health meeting was worth repeating, shortened here to the part that struck me:

I’ll be honest, when I look at our numbers, the pure public health in me says we need to be shutting things down. The practical side of me that has lived and practiced in this county a long time knows that that is not going to be tolerated . . .I think it is going to have to impact a lot more people’s lives . . .

Health Department Briefing:

Charity Menefee chaired today’s meeting. She focused on safety while trick-or-treating, including staying within your family unit or keeping six feet of distance. She suggested incorporating your mask into your costume and encouraged washing hands.

She confirmed the above numbers and discussed the benchmarks, which were covered here in yesterday’s article.

Questions:

  • How do the survey results reported last night guide the response going forward? They showed that some interventions, like mask mandates is helpful for everyone to hear.
  • Have you noticed any trends or bumps related to last week’s fall break from schools? Those would likely show up next week.
  • How many of your reported deaths came because of COVID only? We report what comes from the state as the primary diagnosis.
  • Are the recent deaths showing any new or different comorbidities? Not at this time. Older populations, heart disease, etc.
  • Why is it important for the “red flag” days to be consecutive? It gives us an idea of the trajectory of growth.
  • When will the additional surge beds be implemented? That will depend on a number of variables which the hospitals could better address.
  • Do you still believe there is a higher viral load in the community than testing shows? We are not identifying a particular group where the spread is happening. Since it is across the board, yes, we believe the spread is high across the community.
  • We noticed a change in the case counts this morning. Can you address that? Yes, that was a typo, not a mistake in the data. The amount of data published daily is unprecedented for us and errors will happen.
  • The election office is setting up a COVID-positive voting location. Does that concern you? Voting is very important. I’m sure they will implement safe practices.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee continues to report very low numbers relative to their initial surge at the beginning of the semester. There are currently 66 active cases reported, up six from yesterday. 1,695 students and staff have recovered, while an additional 8 new cases were reported for the day. The number in isolation or quarantine has continued to ease upward slightly and is now 316. Of these, 41 are employees, 105 are on-campus students and 170 are non-residential.

There continue to be no recently identified clusters.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 10.29.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County Schools are reporting 65 active cases, including 41 students and 24 staff. The number has dropped slightly and more closely resembles the numbers prior to the fall break. 513 in the school community have recovered and 937 are now in isolation or quarantine. The number in isolation or quarantine has steadily increased since break and is now approaching pre-break numbers. Of the 937, 114 are staff and 823 are students.

The four metrics which have largely stayed in green remain so, but custodial staffing has returned to red from yell and substitute availability remains red. All schools are currently open to in-person instruction.

Comments

  1. Quick note: my heart goes out to Dr. Buchanan and all those working for the Department of Health.

    • I second Sandy’s note. I think Martha Buchanan is our local equivalent of Anthony Faucci. Both are knowledgeable professionals trying to do the right thing for us despite being in very difficult positions politically.

  2. The Health Department is working so hard and the disrespect for them is heartbreaking!! I am grateful for everything they are doing!!

  3. I just left the Wal-Mart on Chapman Highway. I would say 25% of the shoppers did not have masks on. Why are there people at the door counting shoppers coming in but not asking them to wear a mask? Cases are way up and businesses need to be more vigilant in asking customers to comply with the mandate. I got a few items and left. I won’t go back into that store.

    • Each business is acting pretty much the same for those individuals who won’t wear a mask. There have been too many confrontations that maskless ones escalate to violence. No one wants their employees injured. Those not wearing masks are claiming constitutional rights, etc. There is a good way around it for the stores but I don’t see many of them doing it. Make it store policy. No one can argue with that. Mask worn properly and at all times are a store requirement for shopping.

      • Masks are “required” at every Walmart store nationwide, but the company isn’t actually enforcing this requirement for the precise reasons you mentioned in your comment. I get that this absolutely makes their mandate more of a friendly suggestion, but there’s just no realistic way to enforce the policy at massive/diverse chains without running into myriad problems with escalated dissidence.

        • O.C. Walker says

          There’s one way: consistent county-wide enforcement of mandates. Other areas without activist sheriffs are doing so to some degree and with better results.

          If a customer can be trespassed for violating store policy on something like being belligerent over return policies, they can be trespassed for violating store policy over being belligerent over masking on premises. Whether the officers involved are enforcing the county mask mandate or not is irrelevant there.

          As always with this pandemic: it’s a rump 1/4th of the populace prolonging it through their (in)actions.

      • Yes, that is what Three Rivers Market has done. It is our policy to require everyone over 2 years old to wear an appropriate face mask, face shield, or other covering of their nose and mouth while inside Three Rivers Market during epidemics and pandemics and whenever recommended by public health officials of our community. We hired security to address these issues so we can do our jobs. Our sales are ~3 times higher than our projections so we know our community strongly supports our efforts to maintain a clean and safe store for our employees, our customers, and the co-owners of our cooperative.

        • Thanks, Three Rivers, for doing it right.

          • Yes, I know I’ve been to the co-op much more this year because of the mask requirement. I was so thankful for the ready made options when my 25 year old sister was on a ventilator with covid (thankfully she pulled through). Seeing people maskless was especially painful during that time and I obviously didn’t have it me to cook.

    • Companies should foot the bill and hire security to deal with this as they do in many other places across the country.

      I don’t blame the store employees. They make minimum wage and are told to act as a security guard on top of being a store clerk. There have been many stories about anti-mask people killing and injuring workers for simply asking to wear a mask.
      I saw a non-physical confrontation on Thursday at a Food City and the whole situation was maddening to watch. I feel for these poor employees and the rest of the public trying to keep safe from these fools.

  4. Bob Fischer says

    Dr. Buchanan is right. The local metrics all point to a shutdown being necessary to bring our local outbreak under control, but, when the County Mayor is undermining and sabotaging all the efforts of the Board of Health, that result is both predictable and expected.

    The next step, clearly, for our community, if we expect to get this pandemic under control before the governor or federal authorities authorities step in, is to boycott the businesses of everyone in support of Mayor Jacobs, Kyle Ward, and Justin Biggs. The list of donors to these candidates/elected officials will be published in various local forums within the next 15 days. You can look them up for yourself by googling lists of campaign contributors and seeing the election commission reports for yourself.

    If our elected officials refuse to be accountable to the citizens of this community, we must strip them of funding, go after those businesses for whom they are doing the bidding, and make our opinions known by taking our cash to those businesses that support the Board of Health’s mandates. We must also show up in opposition to all projects put before County Commission, City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission as well as Beer Board and anywhere else that the supporters of this terrorist action of infecting, hospitalizing, and killing innocent random are operating. If the only way to have a humane and united public health policy is a consumer action and boycott of those businesses supporting Mayor Jacobs in his culture war and bio terrorist attack of the citizens of Knox County, then that is what the citizens under attack from this administration will do.

    This is not how the town most of us know and love has traditionally operated. All Glenn Jacobs had to do to avoid our present situation was advocate for voluntary mask usage when he seized power from Mayor Kincannon and attempted to seize power from Dr. Buchanan. That’s what libertarians do. The look for the best solutions with the least amount of government. That’s not what Mayor Jacobs did.

    Mayor Jacobs instituted policy guaranteed to kill as many innocent citizens as any known policy could against the advice of his appointed, board certified, vetted expert Board of Health and the majority of his constituency. That’s not libertarian, that’s a terrorist act against his own people, for the sole purpose of consolidating power in the county mayor’s office. That’s fascism. One is not defined by the label one gives himself, one is defined by one’s actions.

    We must stand United in a peaceful effort to change the direction our County is going in before the spread of Covid and its hospitalizations and deaths that go with that become a problem of cataclysmic nature. It’s up to us to determine what kind of death toll we want for Christmas.

    Look out for yourself. Look out for others. Wear a mask. Life is precious and fleeting. Provide a quality existence for each other. Wear a mask. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Peace be with you.

    • Daniel Smith says

      Most people in this community do not agree with you… You don’t seem to understand that.

      And you are talking about stripping people or their funding and claiming people are choosing to kill others. I get that you feel strongly about it, but the rhetoric is a bit much and not helpful in persuading others.

      Can reasonable minds not disagree, given that the evidence out there that shut downs are more harmful than good is pretty strong at this point. It’s at least sufficient to support a reasonably policy position.

      • O.C. Walker says

        Whether or not the community (assuming you mean Knox County here) agrees depends on the issue he’s raising. It’s pretty clear that a vast majority, 78% in the last Pulse Survey, support mandates like masks and potentially more actions by the BoH. If you’re talking about the hyperbolic ramblings, maybe not so much.

        The issue is both of you are approaching it from a mindset that it’s individual actors and then projecting some moral battle onto it. Don’t worry, consumer boycotts are rarely effective and the coffers will remain full for politicians who do the bidding of the moneyed interest no matter the public cost.

        The truth of the matter is this is what the system dictates. Capitalism cannot abide a limit or restrictions, so it will always try to circumvent it. From business owners skirting regulations to their lapdogs in law enforcement and government seats rolling them back. The tendency of the rate of profit to fall over time now means that human life and community health must be sacrificed to extract whatever surplus can be had even in a time of crisis. In the past, this was hidden half a planet away in “developing countries” or in our local impoverished neighborhoods. Now, like the opioid crisis, people are paying attention because the can see it and it actually affects them and/or their neighbors.

        As to persuading others, I think that ship sailed long ago on this issue. As soon as wearing masks became a culture war cause. The same group that elected a Queens-based fancy lad is now willing to risk death or debilitation to similarly “own the libs.” Just more useful idiots with false consciousness screaming as they’re escorted out of public meetings and one particularly odious local proprietor who likens himself to Thomas Jefferson in FB videos but makes an ass of himself like Joseph McCarthy on Zoom calls.

  5. Peter Scheffler says

    As always, thanks for your coverage. I live in Oak Ridge, but it helps me decide where and when to go to Knoxville.

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