Happy Friday! If you’d like to get out this weekend, downtown is beautiful and strolling around outside should be safe enough. The elf is back and hidden in windows, the lights are beautiful, and ice-skating returns, but at the much larger coliseum. Also, please remember to buy local. Local businesses depend on December to see them through the months afterward.
While spring usually brings festivals and events to downtown Knoxville, I don’t see that coming, so they will suffer more. Please spend some of your Christmas dollars with these businesses. Many do curbside pick-up or delivery. We want them all to be around when this sad chapter ends.
And have some family fun. We have got a weekend lineup of Home Alone 2, Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton version), and Christmas Chronicles 2. Tis the season. I suspect we’ll throw in some football on tv, some basketball (live and on tv), some chess and some dreidel. I’m thinking real money might make that more interesting.
The state of Tennessee reported 6,011 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. The new cases bring our totals to 391,133 confirmed cases and 37,840 probable cases. 382,444 Tennesseans are considered recovered or to have inactive cases, while 41,289 people in the state have active cases. The state is averaging 5,817 new cases per day, the highest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic.
The state also reported 69 deaths for the day. The total for COVID-19 deaths in the state since the beginning of the pandemic has now reached 5,240. Deaths for December have reached 638 in 11 days, more than half the total in November, which is the worst month of the pandemic. Deaths are now averaging 65 per day.
An additional 90 COVID-positive Tennesseans were hospitalized yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 12,952. At 2,568, there are 34 in the hospital than the day before. ICU numbers are similarly improved at 634, though more are on ventilator at 334. Regular beds have about 12% availability, while 9% of ICU beds are available.
The state reported 30,850 tests for the day, down from the previous day’s totals of around 45,000. The state has reported just over 4.8 million tests during the pandemic. For the day, the test positivity rate was 18.57%, while Johns Hopkins University reports an 18.8% average for the last seven days for the state.
The Knox County Health Department reported 368 new cases today, down from 383 the day before. Since Knox County numbers tend to track state numbers a day later, I was surprised, given the 33% drop in testing at the state level, that our case numbers didn’t drop more at the county level. The 368 brings our county total to 22,226 confirmed cases and 1,383 probable cases. 20,535 are considered inactive, while 2,906 have an active case of the illness.
Current hospitalization numbers for COVID-positive Knox County residents dropped to 128, bringing the total hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic to 655. An additional 5 deaths were reported, bringing the pandemic total to 208 and the monthly total to 41.
One of the deaths yesterday was misplaced in the 18-44 age range and was re-assigned today to the 75+ age group. That older age group continues to feel the brunt of the pandemic. All five deaths today were among this group and 125 of the 208 deaths fall within the range.
Knox County Schools News:
The number of active cases reported by the Knox County School System has risen to a record 266, including 179 students and 87 staff members. 1,230 students and staff are considered recovered.
The numbers in quarantine and isolation continue to escalate rapidly, which likely explains the looming closure of in-person classes. On three consecutive days, the number moved from 2514 to 2,649 to the current 2,894. Of the current number, 2,544 are students and 350 are staff members.
Strangely, student and teacher attendance metrics remain green on the final day of in-person classes, which were presumably closed due to teacher attendance specifically. All students in the county public schools go to virtual instruction starting Monday and lasting at least until January 5. Going into the closure, sixteen schools remain on the virtual-only list: