COVID-19: 11/20/2020 Update (State, Local, UTK, KCS, Including Today’s UTK Briefing)

Tennessee Daily Cases 11.20.2020 (Source:

I hope you are having a good Friday and have carved out some relaxing or fun time for the weekend. Tonight, is build-your-own-pizza night at our home, with our celebrity 5-year-old as the judge in the pizza baking contest. Hot chocolate and movies will follow at the after-party. There will be football, long walks, and lots of snuggles this weekend.

As you know, I try to share a little levity or uplift at the beginning of my articles, because the topic is depressing, and we’re all exhausted. At this time, however, it is important to understand just how tough the situation has become. Deaths across the world have crossed the 10,000 per day mark, an unprecedented number. Hospitalizations are at a peak in the U.S. and deaths have, once more, crossed 2,000 per day as cases approach 200,000 per day.

Please be careful. Please consider not gathering or traveling at Thanksgiving. The CDC has recommended against travel and we already know that hundreds of thousands of college students are preparing to do just that. If we have a normal Thanksgiving, with unmasked gatherings of friends and family, we will likely be saying our final farewells to large numbers of those people by Christmas.

State News:

Tennessee reported 2,887 new cases for the day, yesterday, resulting in new totals of 304,077 confirmed cases and 24,011 probable cases. 283,785 people are considered to have inactive cases and 16,164 Tennesseans have active cases of COVID-19. What would have been close to a state record just six weeks ago, was only the 24th highest state total in the U.S. for yesterday, with 42 individual states reporting over 1,000 new cases each. Tennessee is now averaging 4,481 new cases per day.

80 deaths were reported in the state, bringing the total to 4,128 Tennesseans who have died of the virus. The number is the second highest Tennessee has reported on a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, with the highest coming eight days earlier. The death total was the seventh worst in the country among the states, with four states exceeding 100 deaths for the day. Tennessee is now averaging 48 deaths per day from the illness.

Tennessee Daily Testing and Positive Test Result Rates 11.20.2020 (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

As they have for two months, hospitalizations continue to track upward and to set new records each day. 80 additional COVID-positive Tennesseans were hospitalized yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 11,422. For the first time, there are more than 2,000 COVID-positive Tennesseans in the hospital, at 2,009. Of these, 536 are in ICUs and 240 are on ventilators. Of the three, ICU beds are the closest to capacity, with 10% availability.

Testing, already at a low-average number of about 24,800 the day before, dropped to 17,600 reported tests yesterday. For the day, the state reported a 14.31% positive test rate, while John Hopkins puts Tennessee’s seven-day average positive rate at 14.1%. The state has given just under 4.2 million tests since the beginning of the pandemic.

Knox County Daily Cases 11.20.2020 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Local News:

For the first time since October 29, the Knox County Health Department has reported fewer than 100 cases for a day, with 92 reported this morning. It brings the totals for the county to 16,480 confirmed and 912 probable cases. 15,228 are counted as inactive, while 2,018 remain active.

Hospitalizations remain high at 86, up from 83 yesterday. 543 COVID-positive Knox County residents have been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic.

The delayed impacts of cases and hospitalizations are now being experienced in the county with a surge in deaths. The Knox County Health Department reports 6 new deaths today, bringing the pandemic total to 146 in the county. 18 people have died so far this week, nearly matching last month’s total of 21.

The additional deaths were spread over the age categories, with one person between 45 and 64, two people between 64 and 75 and three over 75. The current demographic totals by age for deaths include ages 18-44 (5), 45-64 (25), 64-75 (36) and 75+ (80). 93 of those who have died are male and 53 are female. The overwhelming majority are non-Hispanic (125) and white (116).

The Knox County Board of Health meets this afternoon at 5:00 pm. I plan to bring a report for tomorrow.

University of Tennessee Active Cases 11.20.2020 (Source: University of Tennessee)

University of Tennessee News:

The University of Tennessee is reporting 86 active cases this morning, more-or-less in line with recent days and weeks. Of these, 73 are students and 13 are employees. 1,965 students and staff are now considered recovered. 10 new positive tests were reported for the day.

The number of students and staff continues to rise in disproportionate numbers to the number of active cases, with 578 in isolation or quarantine, the highest the number has been since September 23. Of the total, 94 are employees, 158 are residential students and 326 are non-residential students.

No recent clusters have been reported. UT Chancellor, Dr. Plowman who has been the face of the UT response is in quarantine due to exposure to a person who tested positive. Athletic Director Phil Fulmer has tested positive for the virus. He is reportedly asymptomatic.

University of Tennessee Briefing:

Dr. Plowman led the briefing from her home, reporting that she has tested negative, so far, and is feeling fine. She reviewed the data above, and urged students to plan for departure, including taking a flu shot and getting a COVID-19 test. She reported that pooled testing last week yielded a 64% participation rate and resulted, so far, in six new cases.

Dr. Gregg noted that the number of active cases has slowly increased, though it appears to be slower than the increase seen across the county. He urged students to consider travel plans carefully with COVID safety in mind. He urged students to either not get together with friends back home or to do so masked and outside.

Dr. Plowman said on-campus testing for spring would be every week and would be extended to off-campus students. Dr. Crawford joined to discuss testing and vaccines. She said the vaccine will not likely be delivered in time to impact the UT plans for spring semester. She said summer vaccine availability for students would be the most hopeful scenario. Testing capacity for testing will be about 8,000 per week. On campus students will be required to participate. Rewards will be given to participants.

Today marks the final briefing for the semester.

Knox County Schools Active Cases 11.20.2020 (Source: Knox County Schools)

Knox County Schools News:

The Knox County Schools are reporting a new record 135 active cases among students and staff. The total is an increase of 11 from the day before and includes 46 staff and 89 students.

732 students and staff are considered recovered, while a new record 2,145 students and staff are in quarantine or isolation. The quarantine and isolation total includes 1,866 students and 279 staff members, with each number continuing to grow. As noted yesterday, this number makes in-person education increasingly difficult.

The metrics remain unchanged from yesterday, with county-wide student attendance, bus service, and cafeteria support remaining green, while teacher attendance is in the yellow zone and custodial and substitute availability remain red.

Two additional schools were closed to in-person instruction yesterday. Bearden Middle School and West Hills Elementary were added to the list due to high rates of staff absenteeism and concerns regarding student attendance. The list of Knox County public schools utilizing virtual-only education now includes:

Whittle Springs Middle – November 23

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

Gibbs Elementary – November 30

Gibbs Middle – November 30

Bearden Middle – December 7

West Hills Elementary – December 7

Though not a public school, one of the area’s largest private schools, Webb School of Knoxville, is also making changes according to reporting from Compass. The news site reports that due to a spike in numbers, the upper grades will not meet in-person again until after Thanksgiving Holidays, at which point middle and upper grades will have alternating day schedules, in order to reduce the number of students physically in school on a given day. The effect is the same as the schedule in Oak Ridge, which reduces the number of contacts for any given student who may test positive.


  1. Thank you for being a steady hand providing needed information and some levity during this tumultuous time. We appreciate it more than you know!

  2. We appreciate you, and I imagine that Urban Boy and Urban Girl do also (though for different reasons). I wonder if their parents are concerned about being able to maintain the new level of attention and events you have established for them! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  3. Bob Fischer says

    Last weekend’s Hobie Bass Tournament in Knoxville certainly brought a heretofore unknown sense of intrigue to Covid reporting. We not only had a chance to see to what extent the mayor would go to send anti-mask messages to his terrorist cult, but how he views our corporate citizens and guests efforts to help fight Covid.

    On Monday there was an announcement from the Mayor via Twitter that he was moving his messaging to Parlor, a social media site known for promoting various QAnon and right wing conspiracy theories. It’s where the KKK went after they claimed Facebook was being mean to them. It’s a site for Nazi sympathizers. Mayor Jacobs should fit right in.

    Along with that announcement, Mayor Jacobs posted a picture of himself and two subordinates, unmasked, standing at the Hobie picture backdrop implying Hobie’s tacit support and approval of that picture. By posting that picture and associating himself with that brand, he sent a message to his followers that Hobie supported him and his policies. Except for one thing, Hobie strictly forbids its brand to be associated with any part of the anti-mask movement, and that includes Glenn Jacobs bio-terrorist local cult.

    I own a Hobie Kayak. It was a bucket list retirement present to myself. When one buys a brand like that, part of the value of the product, is the brand and what it says about how you view your life surrounding that product. In the blink of an eye, that brand went from portraying those associated with it as intelligent, thoughtful active outdoorsmen in tune with the elements around us, to that of being a part of a bloodthirsty cult, blood dripping off our fangs, intent on the infection and slaughter of our children’s grandparents for the holidays. It’s not an image I was happy with portraying and I contacted Hobie to express my displeasure with the direction their company philosophy and marketing strategy had taken. Come to find out, our county mayor, Glenn Jacobs and two of his minions had punked them and attempted to destroy their brand, ostensibly to advance Mayor Jacobs brand as cult leader and solidify support within the local bio-terrorist circles.

    The Hobie rep was actually a pretty good guy who had no idea that Jacobs had seized power from the city in April, began campaigning against mask usages under false constitutional premises, called his supporters to sight in their weapons on Memorial Day weekend, voted against, undermined and sabotaged virtually every mitigation effort put forth by the Board of Health, wrote, produced and narrated a video call for terror based violence against innocent citizens serving their county in a volunteer capacity by triggering a lone wolf terror attack, organizing and encouraging a real life bio-terrorist attack against innocent citizens at a public county commission meeting contributing to a death spike equaling a months worth of deaths exactly six weeks out from the attack, and failing to endorse mask usage as a primary means of mitigating this surge of infections even at this stage of the game, and oh yeah, was going to hijack and trash his companies brand and logo to advance the cause of his bio-terrorist cult, as he put it, had they known this is what Mayor Jacobs was going to bring to the table, he wouldn’t have been invited to the event.

    When people ask how Knoxville’s Covid response went from best in the nation to worst in the nation, the answer is simple, Glenn Jacobs. And he is still driving the narrative. Until Glenn Jacobs gets on board with a science based approach, and convinces his cult to follow those guidelines, things will continue to get worse. And most of us natives recognize that, at twenty deaths a week, it doesn’t take long in Knoxville to be personally impacted by this situation.

    As fall moves out and the dark days of winter set upon us, remember that spring will come. The more desperate things become, the brighter the dawn of a new day and the more precious our time on this rock becomes. Don’t ever quit. Fight for yourself, your family, your neighbors and your future. Don’t allow a high jacked brand or a gaslit message jade you against the good in the world. Do not let an abundance of evil blind you to the good in the world.

    Wear a mask. Work to make the world a place that’s safe to hug your children. Social distance. Cook the best Thanksgiving meal of your life and thank the Lord you are able to taste it. Find hope and hold onto it for dear life. Don’t run from the truth. Stand up to evil.

    • Dean Schultz says

      You are a Debbie Downer, is someone paying you write this farce. First Mayor Jacobs seized the city and was responsible for some alledged spike in deaths.

      Enjoy your dark days in your fantasy world and keep fighting the fight.

      • Concerned parent 2 says

        Dean, Bob is hyperbolic imo, yes. But he is spot on describing Jacobs’ efforts to suppress or even just mitigate the spread of covid in Knox Co as non-existent, even resistant to science-based measures. A leader must find ways to keep us safer (enforce cutfews and masking) while limiting the harm done to businesses – not just ignore safety measures based on political philosophy.

      • Bob Fischer says

        Unfortunately, without the use of hyperbole, the realities of just what the Mayor is doing don’t translate well into reporting on this situation. What do you call the processes by which an elected official accelerates a death rate that kills his constituents? Do you really believe its the purpose of those of us reporting to whitewash this situation to the point where the Mayor’s behavior is normalized? Six weeks ago he organized and instigated a terror attack on County Commission, that at the time it was launched was noted, that the effects would be a spike in deaths. Lo and behold, ten extra people die six weeks later. Ever hear of cause and effect? What would you call it?

  4. Jamie Skull says

    Alan, thank you for your vigilant reporting. I was reading your article every day for a while, then I grew weary; I can’t imagine doing the work you put into these daily updates, but I sincerely appreciate you for doing so. I still check in two or three times a week. I hope you don’t get overwhelmed, and I am glad you are enjoying your family time. Thank you, very much.

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