I hope your weekend was a good one. We watched the entire Home Alone series (pro tip: skip the third one), as well as several others. The weather was nice enough to get outside and we did that a bit. The grownups were watching the horrific COVID-19 numbers and the promising reports on vaccines. We have a wild ride ahead of us. Be safe. Don’t get caught letting down your guard when relief may be on the way.
About 73 million people across the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic less than a year ago. The 5.5 million people diagnosed in the last week reflects an escalation from 4.4 million the week before. Just over 51 million have recovered, about 20.2 million cases remain active, nearly a million more than the same day last week. Just over 1.62 million have died, including over 76,000 in the past week, roughly the same as last week.
The previous single-day record for cases, 694,845 set on December 4, was broken this past week with 704,572 on Friday, December 11. One week ago, the average number of daily cases was 616,107 (revised upward from the number I reported a week ago, as Spain and others do not report on the weekends), and it has now risen to an average of 625,111 cases per day.
Deaths remain near record highs but have plateaued for the last week. Last week, the seven-day average for deaths was 10,913 and we are now averaging 10,904 deaths per day. Even with that, a new single-day high death total was set with 12,918 deaths reported on Thursday, December 10.
For a single day snapshot, yesterday, there were 539,518 new cases reported, up about 3,300 from the same day a week earlier. 7,673 deaths were reported for the day, up 125 from the same day the previous week. The same five countries reported the most deaths for the day, though the order changed slightly, with Russia and Italy switching spots: the U.S. (1,379), Mexico (685), Russia (488), Italy (484) and India (338). Of these, only two countries showed increases in week-over-week comparisons: the U.S. (up 27%) and Mexico (up 16%).
For the day, ten countries reported more than 10,000 new cases, down from the twelve that reported as many on the same day last week. The U.S. continues to dominate new cases, not only leading the world in yesterday’s totals, but reporting more cases than the next nine countries below it, combined. The totals for the day: the U.S. (187,901), Russia (28,080), India (27,336), Turkey (26,919), Brazil (21,395), the U.K. (18,447), Italy (17,938), Germany (17,891), Mexico (12,057) and France (11,533).
Over 16.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, up about 1.5 million from a week earlier, reflecting an increasing pace over previous weeks. Just over 9.7 million Americans have recovered or are considered inactive, while over 6.7 million Americans have active cases, up from about 6 million a week earlier. Over 306,000 Americans have died from the illness, an increase of over 17,600 in the last week.
The U.S. continues to increase the gap over other countries in both cases (16.7 million to India’s 9.9 million) and deaths (306,000 to Brazil’s 181,000). Average daily cases, after crossing 200,000 for the first time the previous week, reached a new high average of 216,700 new cases per day as of yesterday. Average daily deaths, 2,257 a week ago, have risen to 2,519 per day.
The U.S. is now fourth in the world in per capita cases among countries with at least 1,000,000 in population, trailing only Czechia, Belgium, and Bahrain. The U.S. is ninth in per capita COVID-19 deaths in the world. The U.S. dropped this week from sixth to seventh in per capita testing among the same countries.
As state above, the U.S. is averaging 2,519 deaths per day from COVID-19, surpassing average death rate highs from last spring, just this week. The 3,261 deaths reported last Wednesday, December 9, is the highest single-day death total reported in the country during the pandemic.
The states reporting the most deaths continue to shuffle. For the second week in a row, the states with the top five death totals only has two states in common with the same day the previous week. Yesterday’s worst death tolls include Pennsylvania (120), Illinois (107), Texas (101), New York (87) and Colorado (87). Of note, last week on the same day, no state reported 100+ deaths and this week there are three. Last week California made the top five with 55 deaths, this week, that would have ranked only 10th.
For the day, twenty-seven states reported multiple thousands of cases, while thirty-five reported at least 1,000. Three of the top five states were the same. The five included, California (33,176), Tennessee (11,352), Pennsylvania (9,876), New York (9,876), and Ohio (9,266).
The top states in per capita cases and deaths remain the same as last week: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. North Dakota has also entered the list of states with the worst per capita death rates, dropping Louisiana from the list. The list now includes in order, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Connecticut. Tennessee dropped one spot to 13th in per capita cases and remains 26th in per capita deaths.
In the three days since the last report, the state of Tennessee reported 7,289 new cases on Friday, 6,691 on Saturday and a new record 11,352 on Sunday. Yesterday’s total exceeded the previous record, set four days earlier, by over 38%. The state is averaging 7,673 new cases each day, up from 4,868 reported a week earlier. State totals now include 412,568 confirmed cases, 41,737 probable cases and 57,952 active cases.
Over the same three days, the state reported 87 deaths from the virus on Friday, 73 on Saturday and 62 on Sunday. The state is now averaging 74 deaths per day, the highest the average has reached since the beginning of the pandemic. The 87 deaths on Friday constituted the sixth highest daily total so far, with all six falling within the last five weeks.
An additional 43 COVID-positive Tennessee residents were hospitalized yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 13,144 hospitalized. 2,679 COVID-positive Tennesseans are currently hospitalized, just off the high set the day before. 671 of these are currently in ICUs and a record 353 are on ventilators. ICU bed availability, the most stressed of the three is at 10%.
Test reporting hit a significant disruption over the weekend, with the report Saturday including only about 13.2 thousand tests, but an eye-popping 52% positive test result rate. Sunday, an enormous 82,000 tests were reported, with a positive test result rate of only about 12%. Clearly, many negative test results were moved to the second day. Most infectious disease reporting only involves positive results, and this could be an indication that this massive reporting effort at this level of infection and testing is getting harder to maintain.
Johns Hopkins University is reporting a seven-day average of 17.7% positive test results, slightly better than the end of last week, but still about 3 1/2 times where we would hope it to be. In another measure of spread, one method of looking at the level of spread is to measure how many people seem to be infected by each positive case. It is the “r” factor and this website ranks each state daily. As of this morning, they rated Tennessee’s spread as the worst in the country.
Since the last report, the Knox County Health Department has reported 394 new cases on Saturday, 587 new cases on Sunday and 506 new cases today. Each of the two days over 500 are higher than any previous days. The county has only had four days in which over 400 cases were reported and each of those has been in the last fourteen days.
The new cases bring county totals to 23,753 confirmed cases and 1532 probable cases. The seven-day average for new cases is 388, which is more than double the 159 average from the same time a month ago. 21,114 cases are considered inactive, while a new record 3,953 are now active. That number has more than doubled in the last eight days.
Hospitalized COVID-positive Knox County residents now total 132, up slightly from Friday, but in the low end of the range maintained over the last week. The total hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 666. Ten deaths were reported over the last three days, including five today. Of these, one was in the 18-44 age group, one was in the 45-64 age group, three were in the 65-74 age group and five were over age 75. The county has now logged 51 deaths for the month and is on track to exceed 110 by the end of December, nearly twice the current record set last month.
The state reports a 20.6% positive test result rate for Knox County.
In local news, Knox County Health Director, Marth Buchanan, reported having received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. We wish her a fast recovery. Additionally this weekend, three bars were cited for violating the curfew set by the Board of Health. The three cited were Billiards & Brews, Paul’s Oasis, and Just 1 More Bar and Grille. It was the fourth citation for Paul’s Oasis. The mandate carries with it the possibility of a suspension of a beer license for repeated offenses.
Knox County Schools News:
The Knox County School System moved to all virtual classes today following recent surges in cases among students and staff. I’ll continue to report the numbers through this week if they are updated. Once the updates stop, I will discontinue this portion of the report until schools are back in session.
As of Friday, the school system reported 248 active cases, a drop of 18 from the day before. Of these, 175 are students and 73 are staff members. 1,273 students and staff members are considered recovered, while a pandemic high of 2,908 are quarantined or in isolation. This number includes 2,590 students and 318 staff members. The metrics all remained green with the exception of custodial staff and substitute availability.