COVID-19: 11/18/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, and KCS)

Tennessee Daily Cases 11.18.2020 (Source:

It’s another beautiful day to get outside and breathe some fresh air. I usually listen to WUOT in the mornings, but I switched this morning to New York City’s WNYC to listen to Morning Edition. “It is 32° in Central Park . . .”

Our whole family has spiraled down the how-much-we-miss-New-York-City hole a hundred times since March, but for some reason, that made me want to be there more than ever, feeling the crisp New York air on my skin and kicking through the leaves as the kids scurry about. Maybe next year. We’ll be back New York, we’ll be back.

State News:

Tennessee reported 1,841 new cases yesterday, bringing the totals to 298,288 confirmed cases, and 22,441 probable cases. 276,497 people are considered to have inactive cases and 17,796 Tennesseans currently have active cases of COVID-19. The new case number dropped Tennessee far down the list for most daily cases nationally yesterday, to 27th, as many states are reporting extreme high numbers and Tennessee hit a lull. The state is averaging 4,425 new cases per day.

As new cases lowered, deaths for the day increased. 72 deaths from COVID-19 were reported across the state for the day, the seventh highest total reported in the U.S. for the day. It was the fourth highest single-day total for Tennessee since the beginning of the pandemic. All four of the highest single-day totals have been reported in the last three weeks. The state is averaging 46 deaths a day, the highest the average has risen since the beginning of the pandemic.

The state also continues to set hospitalization records, as 54 additional people were admitted to the hospital yesterday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 11,255 Tennesseans have been hospitalized with the illness. New records continue to be set daily for all categories of COVID-positive hospitalizations. The latest updated data reveals 1922 COVID-positive Tennesseans are currently hospitalized, compared to 1,212 a month earlier. Of these, 525 are in ICUs and 234 are on ventilators. Of these, ICU availability is the lowest at 12%.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rates 11.18.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

As anyone who follows these numbers would know immediately, the number of reported tests dropped dramatically yesterday, from a record 61.5 thousand the day before to a below average 14.3 thousand yesterday. Nearly 4.2 million tests have been administered in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reported a 13.22% positive test result rate for the day and Johns Hopkins reported 13.3% for the most recent seven-day period.

In other state news, the Tennessee Education Association has delivered a list of requests to Governor Lee. The requests, among other things, calls for a mask mandate for all students and staff state wide, statewide guidance on infection thresholds for school closures and funding for extended COVID-19 related sick leave for teachers.

In a press conference yesterday, Governor Lee stated, “We are in a crisis.” While continuing to urge Tennessean’s to wear masks, he made no mention of mandating it, though he did say his administration is preparing for “difficult decisions.” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Piercey said health care workers in the state are “undersupplied and overextended.” Discussing surge capacity, Governor Lee said “we’re not there yet,” but “we know that at the current trajectory there will be a day when we get there . . .”

Knox County Daily Cases 11.18.2020 (Source Knox County Health Department)

Local News:

The Knox County Health Department reported 119 new cases today, down from yesterday’s record 373, and the 19th consecutive report of 100 or more cases for the day. 16,155 confirmed cases and 899 probable cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic. 14,721 people are considered to have inactive cases, while 2,195 cases remain active.

For the fourth consecutive day, the county set a new daily high for hospitalizations, with 91 COVID-positive Knox County residents currently in the hospital. No additional deaths were reported today, and that number remains at 138. The state now reports a 14.1% positive test result rate for Knox County.

Metrics were also updated today, with no green metrics reported for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. The metric for stable or dropping case numbers remained red, as did the metric for test quantities and turn-around time. Moving to yellow for the first time, public health capacity to contract trace in a timely manner had previously remained green from the beginning. Hospital capacity remained yellow, but is given new nuance with “yellow, rising” the current designation, meaning it remains yellow, but is trending in the wrong direction. Stable or reducing deaths, for obvious reasons, remained red.

It appears that the state’s afternoon report of lower test and case numbers or higher test and case numbers is predictive of an increase or decrease in Knox County’s numbers the following morning. Deaths appear to be the reverse, with a high number of deaths reported in the morning for Knox County being followed by a high number for the state, as was the case yesterday. Given there were no deaths in Knox County this morning, I’m guessing deaths will be lower for the state when they are reported this afternoon.

It’s a reminder, none of these numbers are real time, but rather come out as they filter through the system. While daily numbers can be helpful, trends tell us much more.

In other Knox County news, the Knoxville City Council voted last night to begin pulling beer licenses of bars and restaurants that continue to routinely disregard the 11pm closing time regulation. Notices are being sent out that enforcement will begin immediately. Reports indicate most bars and restaurants have followed the orders, but a cluster has refused to do so. The new enforcement plan only applies to bars and restaurants within the city limits.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 11.18.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee)

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee is reporting 79 active cases of COVID 19, including 61 students and 18 employees. 1932 students and staff have now been moved to inactive status. Only 4 new cases were reported yesterday. 490 students (410) and staff (80) are currently under isolation or quarantine, the highest that number has been since September 23.

No new clusters have been reported this month. The university reports testing totals by week, so this week’s level of on-campus testing won’t be known until next week. If students are doing as they are encouraged to do, the numbers should go up as they are tested before returning home. If students are doing as they are at other universities, they are avoiding testing even more than before, so they won’t be prevented from returning home.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 11.18.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County School System is reporting 111 active cases, the same number as yesterday, though the breakdown of 39 staff members and 72 students is slightly different. It repeats the record set yesterday for active cases since the beginning of the school year. 710 students and staff are now considered to have inactive cases of the illness.

1,750 students and staff are now in quarantine or isolation, setting a new single-day record and up from yesterday’s record of 1,733. Of the 1,750, 1,528 are students and 222 are staff members.

Updated metrics remain the same, with student attendance rated as green, teacher attendance rated as yellow, bus and cafeteria service rated as green, and both custodial and substitute availability rated as red.

The list of school’s operating virtually only remains the same:

Whittle Springs Middle – November 23

Sam E. Hill Primary
(PRE-K ONLY) – November 23

Gibbs Elementary – November 30

Gibbs Middle – November 30




  1. Rachel Leah Greene says

    I’m following your blog from near Tarrytown. Thank you for the shout out to both WUOT and WNYC. They are my lifeline whether I am here or there. And it is colder but still beautiful in New York too! Thank you so much for keeping me informed about my hometown.

  2. We have made a long weekend trip to NYC in November each of the last four years. We stay in our favorite hotel, see shows, eat good food, walk for miles and miles, and visit with loved ones. This year we added a long weekend in February. It turned out to be our last flight anywhere. We, too, can’t wait to go back.

  3. When I got up this morning (in Knoxville), the temperature here was 30 degrees, and when I emerged into the outside world, it was 32. You can have those crisp temperatures here in beautiful Knoxville.

  4. I share your pain about NYC. My wife & I traveled there for the first times in 2018 and 2019, and just loved everything about it. We were in the midst of planning our 3rd NYC getaway when Covid got real.
    Can’t wait to be back….one day.

  5. Bob Fischer says

    It seems like just yesterday we were looking at days of 100 or more new positive cases as a cause for alarm, now we see numbers in the 100s with a sense of relief.

    It seems like yesterday we were sounding alarms that if Martin Daniel and Glenn Jacobs protocol was adopted we would have a death toll in the hundreds, but they installed their protocol and organized their mod to demand its institution and now we’re praying it won’t go into the thousands.

    What bothers me most about our present situation is that it has exposed us for what we are. When did we lose our sense of common human decency?

    • I don’t think decency is the right word for that exactly. That being said we never had any. It’s a facade. People get to project whatever they want to in their day to day lives.

      When things get tough, fall apart or get stressful that’s when you see how people really are……. Our nation’s wealth and stability has allowed these facades to stand.

      I don’t think that a lot of these deniers are bad people. Just weak.

  6. Folks, we are now one week away from Thanksgiving. With the approach of this season of gratitude, I’d like to make my comment all about thanking those who are working hard on our collective behalf.

    I want to thank you, Mr. Sims, for continuing to share the best available information to help all of us as we navigate this dangerous time. Your work has helped me make informed choices during this chaotic period.

    I also want to thank our Knox County Health Department employees for persevering through the political and social minefields that have made combatting this disease more difficult than it ever needed to be.

    Finally, to truly appreciate what many public health employees – personally unknown to us but valuable to ALL of us – have done to help during this difficult year, I invite you to read this excellent and wrenching interview with a public health employee in Missouri:

  7. Gut wrenching interview, indeed. I almost couldn’t finish reading it, as I read I was pretty sure she was going to bail out, and she did. No shame though to her; she did her best. This interview is similar to those recently published by ICU nurses and doctors in different states, getting cussed and called names by their COVID patients even as they died, preferring their ideas of conspiracies and hoaxes, over science and factual evidence. In the end, the truth will always have the last word. The question is going to be how long will it take for reality to sink in,and at what cost to the country.

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