I hope you had a great weekend. We got a little surprise sunshine that prompted some bonus balcony time. I need the fresh air because apparently, I have wrinkles. I had never noticed, but Urban Boy pointed it out this weekend. Ever helpful, he suggested that Urban Woman might be able to iron them out. Now I’m sleeping with one eye open on the chance he might decide to do the job himself some time in middle of the night.
114.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of cases increased by about 2.7 million in the past seven days, up about 100,000 from the previous seven-day period. It marks the first increase in case rate in weeks. The seven-day average for new cases is 385,397 per day, up about 25,000 from the same day last week.
Over 90.2 million people have recovered from the virus, while 21.9 million people currently have confirmed cases of the virus. Active cases declined about 300,000 over the last week. This marks the third consecutive week with a decline in active cases.
2,543,310 people have died because of the virus, including over 62,800 in the past seven days. That number fell by about 3,000 from the previous week. The current seven-day average for deaths is 8,977 per day, down just over 400 per day from a week ago. The current rate remains similar to that of mid-November.
Yesterday, 311,937 new cases were reported, down slightly less than 1,100 from the same day a week earlier. 6,226 deaths were reported, a drop of just over 130 from the same day the previous week. Compared to last week, the top four death totals reported were from the same countries in the same sequence. Peru replaced Italy (now number 6) in the top five. The countries and deaths they reported: the U.S. (1,285), Mexico (783), Brazil (755), Russia (379), and Peru (195).
Seven countries reported more than 10,000 new cases yesterday, up from six the previous week on the same day and the same as the week before. Forty-three countries reported at least 1,000 cases, down one from last week, but one higher than the week before. While the U.S. continues to lead in new cases, its mathematical dominance has declined. The top countries remain the same: the U.S. (49,433), Brazil (34,027), France (19,952), Italy (17,455), India (15,616), Russia (15,616), and Poland (10,099).
The U.S. has reported about 29.3 million cases of COVID-19, including just under 500,000 this past week, like the week prior. About 19.7 million Americans are recovered, while just over 9 million currently have an active case of the virus. The number of active cases declined by about 300,000 over the past week.
525,780 Americans have died of the illness, including 13,929 in the past week. The number of deaths recorded for the week is 43 higher than the week before. What is notable about the small increase is the fact that deaths had been declining for weeks and have now either paused or are rising.
Yesterday, 49,433 new cases were reported in the country and 1,285 deaths were added to the total. Relative to the same day the previous week, new cases fell by almost 8,000, while deaths increased by 38. New cases are averaging 68,966 per day, down 39 from a week earlier. The rate of new cases remains like that in late October.
The U.S. is averaging 1,989 deaths per day over the last week, up six from the previous week. Death rates remain like those in early December.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in cases (29.3 million to India’s 11.1 million) and deaths (528.8 thousand to Brazil’s 255) and the lead continues to expand. Among countries with at least one million in population, the U.S. remains third in per capita cases, among countries with at least one million in population, behind Slovenia and Czechia.
Among the same group, the U.S. continues to rank seventh in deaths per million. The U.S. ranks first in total testing, but has dropped to 9th in per capita testing, down a spot from last week. In vaccinations, the U.S ranks third in those fully vaccinated, behind Israel (37.9%) and Seychelles (24.3%), at 7.5% fully vaccinated. The U.S. number increased from 5.7% a week earlier.
Six states reported multiple thousands of new cases yesterday, down two from the same day a week earlier, while fifteen reported at least 1,000 new cases (down from seventeen). New Jersey replaced South Carolina in the top five: New York (7,517), Florida (5,539), Texas (4,147), California (3,392), and New Jersey (2,389). Five states reported more than 100 deaths for the day, up from four the previous week. The top four remain unchanged: California (234), Texas (187), Virginia (170), Florida (113), and New York (107).
The top five states in per capita cases remained the same: North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, and Iowa. Tennessee is sixth. The same five states lead in per capita deaths, though Rhode Island moved up another spot (it moved up one last week, as well): New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Mississippi. Tennessee moved up a spot to 18th in per capita deaths. Alaska leads the U.S. in first vaccinations (23%) and second vaccinations (12%), while Tennessee is in a two-way tie for 47th in one vaccine administered (13%) and in a three-way tie for 41st in second shots (6.7%).
The biggest news of the week is the authorization of use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The vaccine is being shipped to states today and the company promises 20,000,000 doses will be delivered by the end of the month. The vaccine is a game-changer in several ways. Requiring only one shot, it cuts in half the workload on vaccinators, and it removes the issue (apparently a big one) of people not showing for a second vaccine. It can also be stored and normal refrigerated temperatures and does not require specialized shipment and storage.
While some concerns were raised regarding its effectiveness, which at 66% is far below the 95% or so of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, those concerns may be over blown. For example, a flu vaccine would be considered highly effective at the lower number. Additionally, these are numbers related to catching the virus. In comparisons between the vaccines of patients getting serious or fatal versions of the virus, the J&J vaccine may be the best of the three.
The New York Times examines possible explanations for the decline in testing in the U.S. (30% drop in recent weeks). Houston, which has done genome testing on coronavirus cases from the beginning of the pandemic, has found every known variant, though some in small numbers, in their metro area. It is unclear what, if anything, this means. Event with all the variants, there has been no recent surge in cases in the Houston area.
Since the last article, the state of Tennessee reported 1,573 new cases on Friday, 1,374 on Saturday, and 1,117 on Sunday. In total, it is an increase of 229 over the previous weekend. The seven-day average for cases has risen to 1,410, up by 307 over the same day a week earlier. State totals have reached 649,166 confirmed cases and 125,838 probable cases.
749,863 cases are now considered inactive, while 13,730 Tennesseans currently have an active case of the virus. Active case numbers continue to drop, with the current number about 2,600 fewer than a week earlier. This most recent number represents the lowest number of active cases in the state since October 3 (13,502).
An additional 19 COVID-positive Tennesseans were hospitalized yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 18,605. The number of current hospitalizations, after pausing for a few days, has resumed a slow decline. With 882 COVID-positive Tennesseans hospitalized as of Saturday, the number has fallen by about 80 from the same day a week earlier. ICU (246) and ventilated patient (132) numbers also continue to fall slowly, with the former down 34 in the last week and the latter down by 27.
Since the last article, the state reported 56 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, 16 on Saturday, and 18 on Sunday, or about 14 more than the previous weekend. The seven-day average for deaths from the virus is 40 per day, up from 29 a week earlier.
Reported tests averaged just over 15,000 per day for the weekend, up from about 10,000 per day the previous weekend. Just over 11.4 thousand tests were reported yesterday, with a positive test rate of a (relatively) excellent 6.77%. The state has given almost 6.8 million tests since the beginning of the pandemic. Johns Hopkins University is reporting a 9% average rate over the last week and shows the rate declining, once more.
The pace of vaccinations in the state has increased significantly. In its most recent update, the state reports 1,368,885 vaccinations have been given to state residents. While only 4,687 tests were given yesterday, only 1,582 were given the previous Sunday. More importantly, 250,662 were given in the last seven days, nearly three times as many as in the previous seven days. 475,579 Tennesseans are fully vaccinated, while 12.54% of state residents have had at least one shot.
At the current rate, all state residents would be vaccinated in the next 343 days, or by February 7, 2022.*
*As previously noted, this assumes 100% vaccination for all residents in the state. Some will decline, some will be excluded due to health or age concerns (there are no currently plans to vaccinate small children), and most scientists agree that 70% to 80% vaccination rates produce herd immunity.
Since Friday’s article, the Knox County Health Department reported 73 additional cases on Saturday, 68 on Sunday, and 35 today, or 54 fewer than the same three day stretch a week earlier. The 35 new cases reported today is the lowest number since August 26 (34).
New pandemic totals for the county include 39,909 confirmed cases and 7,056 probable cases. 45,084 cases are considered inactive, while 1,345 Knox County residents are currently confirmed COVID-positive. The number of active cases in the county is the lowest it has been since November 4 (1284).
54 COVID-positive Knox County residents are currently hospitalized, with a total of 1,259 hospitalized at some point during the pandemic. While the number has held steady in the 50s for ten consecutive days, it dipped to 51 yesterday, tying the number from one week earlier which was the lowest number reached since October 7 (also 51).
Over the three-day period, only one death was reported. The death, reported today, was of a person between the ages of 45 and 64. The two consecutive days with no deaths reported (Saturday and Sunday) were the first since October 23/24.
The state is reporting an 11.7% positive test rate for the county, down 1.2% from the same day a week earlier. County vaccination numbers have been updated and indicate that 98,730 vaccinations have been given locally. 63,444 county residents have had one shot, while an additional 35,001 are fully vaccinated. 13.49% of all county residents have had at least one shot.
Regarding the KCHD wait list: You may get a call from an out of state number when it is your turn. They do not, apparently, leave messages. If you are waiting on their call, you might just have to answer all those car warranty and social security scam calls to make sure you don’t miss the legit call.
To sign up on the Knox County Health Department wait list (if you are currently eligible), go here.
For a list of area providers offering the vaccination, go here.
Knox County Schools News:
As of Friday afternoon, the Knox County School system is reporting 88 active cases of COVID-19, down from 137 a week earlier and down three from the previous day. 3,283 students and staff are considered recovered, while 907 are currently in quarantine or isolation. Of the 907, 822 are students and 85 are staff members. The number in isolation/quarantine is down about 600 from a week earlier.
The metrics are slightly worse than I last reported. Student attendance remains green, but teacher attendance has dropped to yellow. Cafeteria and bus service remain green, while custodial support has dropped to red, joining and substitute availability at that rating. All schools are currently offering in-person instruction.
University of Tennessee News:
The University of Tennessee reports just 59 total active cases of COVID-19, the lowest since January 18 (51). 10 new cases have been reported over the last three days, six fewer than last weekend. 2,919 students and staff have recovered from the virus and 331 are currently in isolation or quarantine, down 54 from the same day a week earlier. Of the 331, 37 are staff members, 198 are residential students, and 96 are non-residential.