Welcome to another week as we edge closer to 2021 and, hopefully, a fresh start. Please keep your hope up, your guard up and dig deep from your well of kindness as we navigate a difficult winter.
Just over 67.5 million people across the world have been reported to have contracted COVID-19. The 4.4 million cases diagnosed in the last week reflects an escalation from 4.1 million last week. Just over 46.7 million people have reportedly recovered and just under 19.3 million people across the world have active cases, up about 1.2 million from last week. Over 1.5 million people have died of the illness, including about 76,000 over the last seven days, up from 71,000 the previous week.
The dip in case numbers last week was short-lived and likely a reflection of the drop in testing and reporting in the U.S. during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The previous single day high of 663,288, set on November 20, was exceeded twice this week, with a new high of 688,333 set last Thursday, December 3. The current seven-day average for cases is 610,356, a new record and roughly 28,000 more cases per day than a week ago.
Global deaths also continue to track upward and set new records. The previous record of 12,286 deaths in a single day, set the previous week, was exceeded twice this week, with the current record of 12,834 set December 3. The current average for international deaths each day is 10,809, up from 10,209 a week earlier.
Yesterday, 536,274 new cases were reported, up about 34,000 over the same day a week earlier. 7,548 deaths were reported, up about 240 from the previous week. The same five countries as a week ago reported the most deaths yesterday: the U.S. (1,087), Mexico (593), Italy (564), Russia (457), and India (374). Of the top five, only the U.S. shows a significant increase, with a jump of about 32% over the same day a week earlier. A significant portion of that jump is likely due to low reporting last weekend.
For the day, twelve countries reported more than 10,000 new cases yesterday, matching the total from the same day a week earlier. The U.S. continues to not only lead the world in new cases, but to dominate it, with yesterday’s total new cases for the country exceeding the total of the next seven countries below it: the U.S. (175,127), India (32,272), Turkey (30,402), Russia (29,039), Brazil (26,363), Italy (18,887), the U.K. (17,272), Germany (14,750), Mexico (11,625), Ukraine (11,590), Iran (11,561) and France (11,022).
The illness continues to be truly global, with fifty-three countries reporting at least 1,000 new cases yesterday, though that is down by three countries from last week’s report. Europe continues to lead the way with 21 countries, followed by Asia with 19 countries, South America (5) and Africa (4).
Amid evidence of a slowing in European cases, most of the countries have instituted serious lockdowns of portions of their countries, including Sweden, which now limits gatherings to eight people, Austria, which has shuttered its entire hospitality industry until the new year and Italy, which has banned travel between regions, closed ski slopes until 2021 and imposed a national curfew. Here’s a good detailed run-down of some of the current restrictions across the various countries. It is a strikingly different approach to that taken by the U.S.
Australia, on the other hand is lifting a number of its restrictions, though, for perspective, their version of open up is more restrictive than many U.S. states have ever been, with 50 people now allowed at weddings, up to 5,000 allowed at outdoor events and churches allowed to host more worshipers. The state of Victoria which had an outbreak that led to many restrictions has now gone 38 days without a reported case.
Almost 15.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, up about 1.4 million from a week earlier, reflecting an increase in pace over the previous week in which the U.S. added 1.2 million cases. Almost 8.9 million cases are considered inactive and just over 6 million cases are active, up about 600,000 from that number a week earlier. Just over 289,000 Americans have died of the illness, a number that includes about 16,000 deaths in the last week.
The U.S. not only leads the world in total cases and deaths but continues to increase its lead over the next countries below it. India is second in cases (15.2 million to 9.7 million) and Brazil remains second in deaths (289,000 to 177,000). The average number of daily cases in the U.S. has crossed 200,000 for the first time, with an average of 200,193 cases being added each day. This number is up from 164,905 a week earlier.
In per capita comparisons among countries with at least 1,000,000 in population, the U.S. has the six highest number of cases per capita in the world, which is unchanged from last week. The U.S. has the ninth highest per capita death rate in the world, down one from the previous week. While the U.S. has administered the most tests in the world at roughly 207.5 million, it is sixth in the world in per capita testing, up a spot from last week.
The United States is averaging 2,260 COVID-19 deaths per day, a new pandemic record, surpassing the previous high average of 2,259 set on April 21. The average is up from 1,481 a week ago, though that total was likely depressed by reporting over the holiday. The previous week, the average was 1,548. Reported deaths continue to cycle with yesterday’s list of leading states only having two states in common with the same day the previous week: Illinois (99), Florida (93), Texas (70), Minnesota (64), and California (55).
Yesterday 28 states reported multiple thousands of new cases and 35 reported at least 1,000 new cases for the day. Three of the states in the top five were the same, with New York and Pennsylvania replacing Ohio and Minnesota. The top five for yesterday: California (28,371), Texas (9,451), Florida (8,436), New York (8,127) and Pennsylvania (7,755).
The top states in per capita cases and deaths remain the same as last week, with the exception that Nebraska passed Wisconsin on the list. In cases: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. In deaths: New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Louisiana. Tennessee remained 12th in per capita cases and dropped a spot to 26th in per capita deaths.
Of the states they surveyed, West Virginia gave the most detail and it was discouraging. They expect to “receive 60,000 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer on December 15 and 26,000 from Moderna the week after. The state can order up to 16,000 new doses from Pfizer a week and up to approximately 5,000 from Moderna each week.” Each person must receive two does to be vaccinated and West Virginia will start by giving the vaccine to “healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, plus emergency response and first responders.
The problem, clear for this state, but likely similar for other states is that there are 100,000 people in this first category. At the rate of vaccine availability described above the final shots for this first group will arrive January 26. A week later the immunization will be in effect for the final group. At that time, just over 5.6% of the state’s population will have been vaccinated. This is going to be a long roll-out. We need to hope other companies begin distribution and/or manufacturing rates rise dramatically.
In the three days since the last report, the state of Tennessee recorded 4,356 new cases on Friday, 4,914 on Saturday and 3,072 on Sunday. Reported tests each day have plummeted in parallel fashion to the numbers. The average number of new daily cases is now 4,868 per day down from 5,126 reported on Friday. State totals now include 366,333 confirmed cases, 34,261 probable cases, 360,152 inactive cases, and 35,499 active cases.
Over those same three days, the state reported 95 deaths from the virus on Friday (a new state high), 29 deaths on Saturday and 38 yesterday. The total deaths from the virus in the state has now reached 4,943. The average number of daily deaths in the state is now 55 per day, just off the average high of 59 reached November 25.
Hospitalizations continue the months-long trend upward, with nearly every day setting a new high. As of Saturday, the last day for which numbers are complete, 2,506 COVID-positive Tennesseans were in the hospital, a record. 653 of these are in ICUs and 335 are on ventilators. ICU beds are most stressed at 11% availability, but that is slightly better than the end of last week.
Testing, after a large, reported total of nearly 56,000 for a single day about a week ago, has trended sharply downward. After settling into the low 20,000s last week, yesterday the state reported only 15,466 tests. For the day, the state reported a positive test result rate of 16.49%. Johns Hopkins University is reporting a seven-day average of 16.9% for the state.
Since the last report, the Knox County Health Department reported 303 new cases on Saturday, 397 on Sunday and 196 today. The 397 cases reported on Saturday constitute a new high for the county. New case totals for the county include 20,728 confirmed cases and 1,189 probable cases. 19,272 cases are considered inactive, while 2,456 are reported as active. (If you see local headlines saying the number of active cases jumped dramatically, those articles were posted before the county caught an error.)
After dropping a bit going into the weekend, hospitalizations of COVID-positive Knox County residents rose again today to 137, the highest single day total, moving past the previous record of 135 set last Thursday. 627 COVID-positive Knox County residents have been hospitalized at some point during the pandemic.
The recent increase in deaths continued through the weekend, with three deaths reported Saturday, two deaths reported Sunday and another today. The three deaths on Saturday were all among people over age 75. The two deaths on Sunday were both people between 64 and 75-years-old. Today’s reported death was a person between the ages of 45 and 64. COVID-19 deaths in the county now total 189.
For the pandemic, demographic data for those who have died break down as follows: By age, ages 18-44 (7), ages 45 -64 (29), ages 64-75 (45), and over 75 (108). 115 males and 74 females have died, the vast majority are white (151) and non-Hispanic (162).
The state reports a 20.4% positive test rate for Knox County.
The Knox County School system is reporting 215 active cases of COVID-19, including 139 students and 76 staff members. The number reflects a drop of two active cases from the previous report, which was the high for the school year.
1,081 students and staff have recovered, while 2,494 remain in quarantine or isolation. It seems likely the second number, which includes 2,170 students and 324 staff members, will drop this week as new CDC guidelines shortening quarantine are put into place.
All metrics for the school system are green, with the exceptions of custodial and substitute staffing, each of which remain red. Six schools are currently on virtual-only learning: