I hope everyone is enjoying the chance to get outside and soak in some sunshine. The dogwoods are blooming, and the trails are open. There is much more hope in the air than we felt a year ago. Of course, there is also pollen. Lots of pollen. The next several weeks will likely tell the story of how quickly we put the virus behind us or how long we allow it to hobble our movement and our economy.
Do not be fooled. The virus is as rampant internationally as it has been at any time. States with greater vaccination numbers than ours are reaching record numbers with new surges. We are not finished. Get your vaccine. Don’t jump in a mosh pit for a while. Cover your face in public. These things are not hard.
Just over 139.8 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and over 17.9 million currently have an active case of the virus. Over 118.8 million people have recovered from the virus, but over 5.1 million new cases were reported this week. The pace of new cases is escalating internationally, with a current seven-day average of 737.9 thousand new cases per day, up about 119,000 per day over the previous seven-day period. The current reported infection rate is within 10,000 per day of its record set in early January.
Deaths from the virus now total over 3 million, including about 84,000 in the past week. The rate of deaths continues to increase globally, with an average of 11,587 deaths per day, or about 1,200 per day higher than the same day last week. The current rate of deaths, after dropping dramatically, has now risen to levels like early February.
Looking at yesterday for a snapshot comparison, 13,859 deaths were reported from the virus, roughly equal to the same day last week (13,882). Brazil continues to lead the world in current deaths, with about 17,000 in the past week and the gap between them and second place India is currently very wide. The U.S. has slipped to third. The five countries with the highest death tolls for the day is the same five reported one week ago: Brazil (3,774), India (1,183), the U.S. (895), Poland (683), and Mexico (518).
845.4 thousand new cases were reported for the day, up over 98,000 from the same day the previous week. Fourteen countries reported more than 10,000 cases for the day (up from 12 last week), while 65 countries reported at least 1,000 new infections for the day (down from 68 last week).
The ten countries with the highest number of new cases yesterday are the same as last week, with the exception that Ukraine fell from the list to be replaced by France. India’s number is a new record for the country and reflects a 64% increase after a 60% increase from a week before that. It reported about as many cases for the day as the next three countries combined. The top countries for the day by cases included India (216,850), Brazil (80,529), the U.S. (74,479), Turkey (61,400), France (38,045), Germany (30,634), Iran (25,078), Argentina (24,999), Poland (21,129), and Italy (16,974).
The New York Times reports the following shot rates per 100 people for each of the continents: North America (37, but for the U.S., it is 59), Europe (22), South America (13), Asia 8.3), Oceana (3.2), and Africa (1). The large gap in rate between North America, driven by the U.S., widened further this week. Israel continues to lead the world with 56% of its population fully vaccinated, which the U.S. is tied for sixth at 23%. At over 195 million, the U.S. has given a larger number of vaccinations than any other country.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in total COVID-19 cases, with 32,226,766 reported since the beginning of the pandemic, reflecting an increase of over 500,000 in the last week. Just under 24.8 million cases are inactive, while just under 6.9 million (roughly the same as a week ago) have an active case of the virus. Yesterday, 74,479 new cases were reported, about 5,700 fewer than the same day a week earlier.
An average of 71,919 new cases per day have been reported over the last week, an increase of about 5,200 per day over the previous week. The average number of daily cases has been increasing for the last month from a low of about 55,000 per day. The current rate is similar to late February.
A total of 579,008 Americans have died of COVID-19. While we tend to associate the virus with 2020, it seems certain that internationally more people will die of the illness in 2021 and that is a strong possibility in the U.S. Just over 362,000 died from the virus in 2020 and over 216,000 Americans have already died of the illness as of mid-April in 2021. About 5,100 died in the past week. An average of 727 are dying each day, down 48 from last week. The current daily death rate is like mid-October.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in total cases, though India replaced Brazil this week as the next country down (32.2 million to India’s 14.3 million). The U.S. also leads the world in deaths (579 thousand), where Brazil remains in second place and is closing the gap (366,000). Among populous countries (over 1 million), the U.S. remains third in the world in per capita cases.
Among the same countries, the U.S. continues to rank 11th in the world for the highest per capita death rate from the virus. It will likely drop to 12th next week as Brazil continues to suffer a high death rate. The U.S. has given more tests than any other country in the world but ranks 11th in per capita testing. The U.S. is tied for sixth in the percentage of its population totally vaccinated at 23%.
Twenty-one states reported increasing rates over the last week. Yesterday, twelve states reported multiple thousands of new cases, the same number as last week. Twenty states reported at least 1,000 new cases, also the same as last week. Texas dropped out of the five states with the largest number of current cases and was replaced by New Jersey: Michigan (7,191), New York (7,151), Florida (6,762), Pennsylvania (5,126) and New Jersey (3,917). The states with the largest number of deaths for the day were Michigan (123), California (88), Texas (80), Florida (71), and New York (63).
The top five states in per capita cases (pandemic totals) remained the same: North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Iowa, and Utah. Tennessee remained sixth. The five states which have led in per capita deaths remained the same: New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Mississippi. Tennessee dropped from 20th in per capita deaths to 21st.
The U.S. is averaging about 3.35 million doses of the vaccine administered per day, up about 300,000 per day over last week. New Hampshire continues to hold the top spot for first vaccinations given (56%), while Maine now leads in those fully vaccinated (31%%). Tennessee ranks 47th both in first vaccinations (31%) and full vaccinations (19%).
The political divide that has plagued the nation’s response to the pandemic continues to be evident in the best and the worst states for vaccination rates. At this point, of the best ten states for vaccination roll out (going by at least one vaccination administered), seven of the ten voted for Biden. Of the worst ten, a full 100% voted for Trump. Vaccine hesitancy is high among Republicans and there is concern it may be high enough to keep the U.S. from reaching herd immunity. That will almost certainly be true in some states and counties, quite possibly including our own.
After last week’s report of the lost Johnson and Johnson vaccines, a new concern arose with the report of a dangerous variety of blood clot which has been reported in six people of the nearly 7,000,000 who got the vaccine in the U.S. The news prompted a pause in its administration while the FDA and CDC investigated. With the side effect seen in less than one person in a million, it seems likely use of the vaccine will continue after public education on recognizing the rare symptoms and education of doctors on treatment (which is different from the normal course of treatment for blood clots).
Of the 77 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated, about 5,800 have reported contracting a case of COVID-19. It underscores the fact that 95% does not mean “all,” and that as long as spread is high, we should continue to exercise caution. Pfizer officials are saying users of their vaccine will likely need a booster in a year and they are working to make that a combination drug that will also battle the flu.
Yesterday, the state of Tennessee reported 1,535 new cases of COVID-19, bringing state totals to 686,174 confirmed cases and 142,940 probable cases. The state is currently averaging 1,164 new cases per day, up 113 per day from last week. The rate remains similar to late June or early July of last year.
803,320 cases are considered inactive, while 13,753 people have active cases of the virus, up about 680 from last week. Active case numbers have plateaued in the 12,000 to 14,000 range in the state since late February, but at the current level, threaten to break out of that range.
Hospitalization numbers in the state have also plateaued in the upper 700s to lower 800s for nearly a month. An additional 43 COVID-positive Tennesseans were admitted to the hospital yesterday, bringing the pandemic total for hospitalizations from the virus to 20,559. 793 COVID-positive Tennessee residents are currently hospitalized, 240 of those are in ICUs across the state, and 118 are on ventilators. The first two numbers are slightly lower than last week, while the third is slightly higher.
The state reported nine additional deaths yesterday, bringing the state total to 12,041 deaths from COVID-19. The state is averaging 10 deaths per day, down from 12 last week.
Testing rates continue to remain steady between 10,000 and 20,000 tests per day. The state reported 19,175 tests yesterday, with a positive test rate of 6.35%. Johns Hopkins University continues to show the state at a slightly higher seven-day average of 8.5%. The rates have remained in a tight range for a month or more.
After dropping just below 300,000 last week, vaccination numbers rebounded to 306,050 for the last week. 3,471,877 shots have been given in the state and 32% (comparative numbers reported above are slightly lower and probably lag by a day or two) have been given a first vaccination. The number is up 2.8% from the previous week. 20.2% (1,378,763) of state residents are fully vaccinated, up 2.8%, as well.
The Knox County Health Department reported 46 additional cases of COVID-19 today, bringing county totals to 42,294 confirmed cases and 8,235 probable cases. The county has averaged 40 new cases per day over the last week, down from 47 per day the previous week. 49,071 cases are considered inactive, while 834 Knox County residents are currently COVID-positive, down by 32 from last week. Active case numbers dropped to 768 yesterday, but otherwise had remained between 840 and 1060 since March 10.
There are currently 33 COVID-positive Knox County residents in area hospitals, down from 35 last Friday. The number dropped as low as 26 over the last week but has held mostly steady in the 30s for over a month.
One additional COVID-19 death was reported in the county today, bringing the pandemic total to 624. Four were reported for the week, down from six the week before. Of the four deaths reported this week, one was between the ages of 45-64, one was 65-74 and two were 75 years old or older. At the halfway point in the month, 15 deaths have been reported. The month is on track to match last month’s 30 deaths.
The state is reporting a 8.4% positive test rate for Knox County, a half percent worse than last week. The county is reporting 275,680 vaccinations have been given, an increase of 32,865 in the last week. This reflects a drop of about 5,200 from the week before. 37.41% of county residents have gotten at least one shot, up about 3.7% from last week.
109,006 Knox County residents, or 23.2%, are fully vaccinated, up from 19.3% a week earlier. A quick glance at the numbers above, shows that Knox County leads the state in first vaccinations (37.4% to 32%) and in those fully vaccinated (23.2% to 20.2%). Compared to other states in the U.S., Knox County would be somewhere around the mid-point for both measures. It, again, reflects the political divide, with more Democratic urban counties leading the more rural and heavily Republican counties.
The Knox County Health Department updated its metrics and the changes including shifting public health capacity and death rates to green from yellow. The other metrics remain the same: Cases (yellow), Testing (yellow) and hospital capacity (green). For another way to measure where Knox County stands, see the New York Times pagefor our county. Our risk level remains extremely high for the risk of COVID exposure.
Charity Menefee chaired yesterday’s press briefing, which was announced to be the final briefing unless the situation changes. She noted that demand for the vaccine has started to wane, which is a concern. She encouraged anyone who is reluctant to discuss the matter with their physician and not to rely on social media for information.
She reminded those who are healthy and think it isn’t an issue. She said they will keep the virus circulating and mutating if they do not get the vaccine. She stressed that the pandemic is not over, and we are at risk of another surge. She said that supply of the vaccine is not outpacing the demand and they do not foresee any issues due to the pause in the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
She took time to address the idea that there are equally valid opinions on both sides of every issue. She said the evidence is now overwhelming for the recommendations that have been made and for the safety of the vaccinations. She said opinions often found on social media does not carry the same weight as the massive scientific information that has been accumulated. She implored people to rely on sound sources.
The Knox County School system is currently reporting 47 active cases, in line with numbers reported since spring break. All schools are offering in-person instruction. The School Board did vote this week not to allow the mask mandate to sunset in August, making any decisions about requiring mask usage in schools at that time based on the current situation.
The University of Tennessee is reporting 38 active cases.