First, we should note that there is good news. Rarely over recent months have I been able to post graphs that show cases and deaths from COVID-19 declining at every level, from International, down to our own county. This is a wonderful moment to savor and to hope the trend continues. That said, the international rates for both are only lower than numbers from the last week. Outside of that, they are the worst of the pandemic, or close. Nearly 13,000 people a day are confirmed to be dying from the virus.
Closer to home, the U.S. has enjoyed its riches in the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine. We will likely not reach herd immunity because of the high numbers of citizens who are declining the vaccine, but we’ve no doubt made a huge impact in the rate of spread, thanks to those who have taken it. Rates at every level from national to Knox County have declined precipitously and may have reached levels where they will remain unless more people are vaccinated.
I started this coverage fourteen months ago because, for the moment, it was the only thing that mattered even at a local level. We have learned a lot since then and, even when numbers are high, we understand the risk enough to continue functioning. With numbers as low as they are now, many people are returning to a relative normalcy. The pandemic is not over, but it would be hard to find much evidence of the fact that as you walk around Market Square this weekend.
Public interest in the topic has waned. COVID-19 is no long a mysterious enemy, it is one we increasingly know well. As a result, most people have made their decisions regarding how to respond and they are doing so. The desperation many of us felt for new information has evaporated. In many respects, most people have moved on. Readership for my articles have similarly declined.
As a result of the above, this will be my last month to provide COVID-19 coverage. For those interested, there is coverage elsewhere and here is hoping the need for information never becomes as critical as we felt it once was. I will continue to write weekly summaries for the next three weeks before ending my formal reporting on the topic. Thank you for following the coverage and I appreciate the opportunity for all of us to learn together in this difficult time.
156.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally. Of these, 134.2 million people have recovered, 18.5 million remain ill and 3.3 million people are confirmed to have died from the virus. About 5.6 million cases were confirmed this week, which is about 200,000 fewer than last week and roughly the same as two weeks ago. The current seven-day average for cases is 794,630 per day, down about 34,500 per day from last week. Last week’s number was the highest the number has ever reached.
Of the 3.3 million people whose deaths are confirmed from the virus, 90,281 were reported in the last seven days. This reflects a slight drop from the 94,114 who died the previous week. The average peaked in January at 14,459 per day.
Looking at yesterday as a point of comparison, there were 860,572 new cases of the virus reported, down from about 898,000 a week earlier. Ten countries reported more than 10,000 new cases for the day, down from twelve the previous week. Sixty-four countries reported at least 1,000 new cases, down from sixty-seven a week ago. The ten countries reporting the largest totals for the day include India (414,433), Brazil (72,559), the U.S. (47,819), Argentina (24,086), Turkey (22,388), France (21,712), Iran (18,409), Germany (17,014), Colombia (16,490), and Italy (11,807).
14,007 new deaths were reported yesterday, down about 1,250 from the same day last week. The three countries reporting the most deaths remain consistent, with India now topping the list, followed by Brazil and the U.S. Compared to the same day last week, India’s deaths are higher, Brazil’s are lower, and the U.S. number is little changed. The countries reporting the most deaths for the day were India (3,920), Brazil (2,531), the U.S. (860), Poland (509), and Colombia (399).
While India’s case curve bent slightly over the last week, the trajectory continues to be very steep, with the 414,433 cases reported yesterday marking the highest single-day case number for that or any other country during the pandemic. The country set its single-day high point for deaths two days ago, with 3,982. The U.S. crossed the 4,000 mark in early January and given the increasing pace of cases, India will likely surpass that as early as next week and will probably go far beyond the mark in coming weeks.
The international consensus seems to be that the numbers of cases and deaths being reported in India do not represent the true totals which are assumed to be much higher. Even with such large numbers, in pandemic totals, India ranks 113th in global per capita case comparisons and 111th in global per capita death comparisons. There are also other countries experiencing even higher rates of increase. Of these, Nepal (population 29.6 million) is a significant concern, with a 101% increase in cases this week.
More than 1.24 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally, up about 160 million from last week. The rate is triple that of the week before. The New York Times reports the following shot rates per 100 people for each of the continents: North America (49, but for the U.S. it is 76), Europe (33), South America (19), Asia (13), Oceana (6.6), and Africa (1.4). Seychelles (population 124,000) leads the world in percentage fully vaccinated at 61%, while the U.S. dropped from fifth to the 9th highest percentage in the world at 33%. China leads the world in total vaccines given, with 297.8 million, while the U.S. is second in the world with 252 million.
The U.S., as it has since early in the pandemic, continues to lead the world in total cases of COVID-19 at roughly 33.4 million, including just over 324,000 cases reported in the last week. The number of new cases reflects a 16% decline from the previous week. Just over 26.1 million Americans have recovered from the virus and just over 594,000 have died. About 6.7 million are currently positive for the virus.
The U.S. is averaging 46,288 new cases per day, a decline of over 8,000 per day from the previous week. The daily case average is the lowest it has been since October 7. The average number of new cases has declined each day since April 14.
The average daily U.S. death rate from the virus also continues to decline, though very slowly. After slowly falling through the 700s each day for nearly a month, the rate dropped below 700 two days ago and is now at 677. It is the lowest average number of deaths per day in the U.S. since July 10. 4,744 Americans died of COVID-19 over the last week, down from just over 5,000 a week ago.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in total cases, with 33.4 million, but India continues to close the gap from second, with 21.6. Over the last seven days, India has added 2,730,301 cases, while the U.S. has added 324,011. The number is up for India from the previous week and down for the U.S. At the current pace, India would surpass the U.S. for most cases in the world about four weeks from now.
The U.S. also continues to lead the world in total deaths from the virus at 594.1 thousand, but both Brazil (417.2 thousand) and India (234.7 thousand) are closing the gap. Brazil (15,800) reported over three times as many deaths as the U.S. (4,700) in the past week, while India (25,800) reported more than five times as many.
Among populous countries (over 1 million), the U.S. remains fourth in per capita cases behind Czechia, Slovenia, and Bahrain. Among the same countries the U.S. dropped again this week, this time to fifteenth in per capita deaths, as it was surpassed by Croatia. The U.S. has given more tests than any other country in the world but ranks 11th in per capita testing.
Ten states are reporting increases in the rate of infections over the last 14 days, the same number as last week. Of these, New Mexico has the largest percentage increase, at 16%. Others reporting more than a 10% increase include Hawaii (14%), Wyoming (12%), Arkansas (11%), and Indiana ((10%). Yesterday, six states reported multiple thousands of new cases, down from eight the same day last week. Seventeen states (including Tennessee) reported at least 1,000 new cases, down from eighteen last week.
The five states with the highest new case numbers yesterday were Florida (4,504), Michigan (4,113), Pennsylvania (3,268), New York (2,964), and Texas (2,724). The states with the highest number of deaths for the day were Michigan (123), California (101), Florida (67), Texas (65), and Pennsylvania (51).
The top five states in per capita cases (pandemic totals) remained the same: North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Iowa, and Tennessee. The five states which have led in per capita deaths also remained the same: New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Mississippi. Tennessee remains 21st in per capita deaths.
About 2.09 million vaccines were given each day over the last week, down 38% from the rate mid-April, and down from 2.63 million per day last week. About 149.5 million people (about 45%) in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 108.9 million (33%) are fully vaccinated.
New Hampshire continues to hold the top spot for first vaccinations given (61%), with Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine, rounding out the top five. Maine leads in those fully vaccinated (43%), with the top five rounded out by Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico, and Massachusetts. Tennessee is tied with Idaho for 45th in first shots (35%), with Wyoming, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi ranking worst. Tennessee is tied with Georgia and Utah for 46th in those fully vaccinated (26%), with Mississippi and Alabama at the bottom.
Yesterday, U.S. airports screened 1.64 million people, the most since March 2020. While still about 35% lower than the same day in 2019, the number offers the latest evidence that Americans are returning to travel. The U.S. Travel Association estimates over 70% of Americans will travel this summer, close to pre-pandemic percentages. April jobs numbers were very disappointing, and show the economy still has a long road back. Many industries are struggling to get workers and others are struggling to get raw materials.
President Biden this week set a new goal of having 70% of Americans vaccinated with at least a first dose by July 4. Three states have already met the goal (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont), four others are close (Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii and New Jersey) and twelve states are below 50% (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Idaho, Arkansas, South Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri). These are CDC numbers and differ slightly from New York Times numbers used above.
Yesterday the state of Tennessee reported 1,187 new cases of COVID-19, bringing state totals to 703,238 confirmed cases and 148,834 probable cases. Over the last seven days, the state has averaged 800 new cases per day, down from 947 a week ago, and the lowest seven-day average reported by the state since June 28 (724).
828,499 cases are considered inactive, while 11,328 Tennesseans are currently positive for COVID-19, the lowest the number has been since June 20 (11,052). After remaining between 12,000 and 14,000 for over two months, the number finally broke out of that range (to the good side) this week.
Hospitalization rates from the virus continue to remain close to 800 as they have for almost two months. Forty-six additional Tennesseans were admitted yesterday, bringing the pandemic total to 21,342. There are currently 803 COVID-positive Tennesseans in the hospital. Of these, 253 are in ICUs and 131 are on ventilators. All the numbers are very close to those from last week (829, 243, 129), as well as the week before.
The state reported 17 COVID-19 deaths yesterday, bringing the state total for deaths to 12,245. The state is averaging 8 deaths per day, the same as reported a week ago. The current death rate is similar to that of last June.
The state’s testing rate continues to be low, averaging just over 12,000 per day, down from just over 14,000 per day a week ago. The state reported 16,481 tests yesterday, with a 4.31% positive test rate. The positive test, .6% lower than last week, rate might indicate that even at lower levels, testing is adequate. Johns Hopkins University is reporting a higher seven-day positive test rate of 6.6% for the state, but a drop of 1% since last week.
The pace of vaccinations seems to have stabilized after its recent drop. The state reports 229,000 shots were given over the last week, up six thousand from the previous seven days. 4,288,322 shots have been given in the state and 35.7% of state residents have gotten at least one shot, up just .9% from a week ago. 28.4% (1,940,138) of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, up 2.9% from last week.
The Knox County Health Department reported 30 new cases today, bringing county totals to 43,242 confirmed cases and 8,615 probable cases. The county averaged 24 new cases per day this week, a drop from 33 a week ago. 50,668 cases are considered inactive, while 554 Knox County residents are currently COVID-positive, a decrease of 102 since last week.
There are 16 COVID-positive Knox County residents currently in the hospital, down from 32 a week ago. This is the lowest this number has reached since I began tracking it last July. 1,401 Knox County residents have been hospitalized with the virus at some time in the last fourteen months.
One additional COVID-19 death was reported today, making two over the last seven days. 635 Knox County residents have died of the virus since it began. Six deaths were reported last week. Of the two from this week, both were in the 45 to 64 age group.
The state is reporting a 5.1% positive test rate for the county, a .8% improvement over last week and, perhaps, the best in the county in nearly a year. The county is reporting 346,427 vaccinations have been given in the county, with 19,700 of those given in the last seven days. Over 23,000 were given the previous week. 41.72% of Knox County residents have gotten at least one shot, up almost 1% from last week. 159,488 county residents (33.3%) are fully vaccinated, up from 30.1% a week ago. The county continues to lead the state by about 6% in first vaccinations and 5% full vaccinations. The county is close to the U.S. average for vaccinations (45%/33%).
Updated metrics from the Knox County Health Department are green for cases, health capacity and hospital capacity and yellow for both testing and deaths. The metrics are based on a two-week window and while the metric for deaths shifted from green to yellow, that was due to the six deaths reported last week and, unless there is a surge of deaths, should return to green next week.
I’ve been including a link to the New York Times page for Knox Countyfor several weeks, as it gives their detailed analysis of where each county in the U.S. stands. A reader pointed out last week that their standards for each category are very strict. The great thing about the site, in my opinion, is that all the data is there and you can make your own determination. I don’t know of any other source that lays out that much data down to a county level. In good news, this week they dropped their estimate of our risk level from extremely high to high as our metrics continue to improve.
Active case numbers in Knox Count Schools have fallen to 44 from 56 reported a week ago. The University of Tennessee is reporting just 7 active cases, down from 14 a week ago.