COVID-19: 10/15/2021 Update

Tennessee Daily COVID-19 Cases 10.15.21 (Source:
Tennessee Daily COVID-19 Cases 10.15.21 (Source:

This week’s report comes to you with continually improving numbers in almost every category from International down to local. It’s a moment for hope, but we also have been here before.

The questions presenting themselves now include how low can we get case, hospitalization, and death rates? Will there be another surge and if so, will the surges peak at levels lower than the previous surge? How can we more efficiently and quickly vaccinate poor countries? How can we convince the large percentage of people in our country, state, and county, who have so far resisted, to get vaccinated so we can get off this merry-go-round?

Assuming the now weeks-long decline in the impact of the virus continues, I will conclude my reports on October 29. Should the need arise, I will resume.

The statistics referenced below, unless otherwise linked, are largely based on numbers from these sites:

The New York Times COVID Database

The State of Tennessee COVID Dashboard

The State of Tennessee COVID Vaccination Dashboard

The Knox County Health Department COVID Dashboard

The KCHD COVID Vaccination Dashboard


International News

International cases and deaths continued their decline, though the rate of decline was slower this week. Cases were down 4%, while deaths were down 7%.

Just over 240.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 4,899,770 deaths from the virus. Just over 17.8 million cases are currently active, down about 300,000 from last week. Just over 2.8 million new cases were added this week, as well as 45,824 deaths.

New cases are averaging 404,014 per day, down from 419,566 a week ago. Deaths from the virus are averaging 6,547 per day, down from 6,924 a week ago. The current daily rate of global deaths from the virus is the lowest it has been since October 29, 2020. The fact that deaths have remained lower in proportion to cases is likely due to the availability of vaccinations.

According to the New York Times, “More than 3.73 billion people worldwide have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, equal to about 48.6 percent of the world population.” That can lead to a misperception of the reality, however, as they add, “About 77 percent of shots that have gone into arms worldwide have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Only 0.5 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.”

Seventeen countries have fully vaccinated 70% or more of their population, up two from a week ago. An additional twenty countries have fully vaccinated at least 60% of their population, the same as last week. The top five countries in the world for full vaccination rates are U.A.E. (87%), Portugal (86%), Malta (84%), Singapore (82%) and Spain (79%).

Fifteen countries, mostly in Africa, have fully vaccinated fewer than 1% of their citizens. This number is down from 18 a week ago. The countries in the world with the lowest vaccination rates all have rates .2% or lower and include (from the lowest) Congo, Yemen, Liberia, Central African Republic, Chad, and Haiti.

National News

Over 45.6 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 741,898 deaths from the virus. The U.S. continues to lead the world in total cases and deaths. Among countries with at least 1 million citizens, the U.S. remains sixth in per capita cases, but has moved up one spot to fourteenth in per capita deaths from the virus, surpassing Belgium.

New cases in the U.S. declined by 13% this week, to about 605,000. The average number of new cases each day is 86,428, down from 97,614 a week ago. Over the last two weeks, new cases have declined by 22%. Active cases number about 9.7 million, down from about 9.8 million a week ago. The current pace of new cases is like early August.

The average number of deaths in the U.S. is distorted this week by a large data dump from Arkansas, in which they reported many retroactive deaths. Including this reported data, the U.S. is averaging 1,818 deaths per day, down 6% over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations have fallen by 20% in the last two weeks. The states seeing the highest current rate of death from the virus include (from the top) West Virginia, Alabama, Idaho, Wyoming, and Florida. The states with the lowest current death rates include Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nebraska, Massachusetts, and South Dakota.

The states with the highest rate of increase in virus cases this week are, in order, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Idaho. That said, even these states are seeing a decline in cases, except for Montana. In order, these states rank 34th, 36th, 48th, 45th, and 49th in full vaccination rates, for an average of 42nd.

The states with the lowest spread rates in the country this week are Hawaii, Connecticut, Florida, California, and Louisiana. In order of full vaccination, these states rank 18th, 2nd, 20th, 15th, and 44th, for an average of 20th.

218 million (about 66%) Americans have gotten at least one round of a COVID-19 vaccination. Over 9.3 million Americans have gotten a booster shot. 57% of Americans are fully vaccinated, up about one percent from last week.

15 states have vaccinated at least 60% of their population, the same as last week. The states leading in vaccination rates remain the same, though they are shuffled a bit: Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts. Connecticut and Rhode Island joined Vermont in crossing the 70% vaccination level. The states with the lowest vaccination rates remain the same: West Virginia, Idaho, Wyoming, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Tennessee Daily COVID-19 Deaths 10.15.21 (Source:

State News

The state of Tennessee has reported 1,260,980 cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic, leading all states in the country in per capita cases. The state added 14,165 cases in the last week, down about 4,100 from the previous week. The current daily average of 2,043 new cases per day is down from 2,630 a week ago. The rate of spread in the state is 29th worst in the country, down ten spots from last week, with a 42% decline in cases over the last two weeks.

15,769 Tennesseans have died of COVID-19, including 262 this week, a drop from 358 reported last week. The state is averaging 38 deaths per day, down from 51 a week ago. Tennessee ranks 21st in per capita COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, the same as last week.

Tennessee COVID-19 Hospitalizations 10.15.21 (Source:
Tennessee COVID-19 Pediatric Hospitalizations 10.15.21 (Source:

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue their decline, with 1,575 hospitalizations reported across the state, compared to 2,022 a week ago and the peak of 3,831 on September 9. 511 COVID-positive Tennesseans are in ICUs, and 359 are on ventilators, down from 627 and 437, respectively, a week ago. Pediatric hospitalizations, locked in a range for a bit, dropped significantly this week to 25 COVID-positive pediatric hospital patients state-wide. There were 39 a week ago.10 are in ICUs and 7 are on ventilators. At 10%, ICU availability is the highest it has been recently.

The pace of testing has slowed in the state, with about 15,000 tests reported yesterday. For the day, the state reported an 11.1% positive test rate, up slightly from the 10.38% reported a week earlier, and still about twice the target rate. Johns Hopkins University has the state at 14%. Tennessee remains ranked at 39th in per capita testing among the states.

102.7 thousand Tennesseans got a vaccination over the last seven days, down from 144.5,000 last week. By my best calculations, 61.5 thousand of those shots were boosters. The result of low initial or second vaccinations, is that our first shot rate moved up only from 53% to 53.5% over the last week and the full vaccination rate rose only from 47% to 47.7%. The state bounced back up to 42nd from 43rd in state vaccination rate comparisons.

Vaccination rates remain the highest among older groups and the lowest among the young. Current percentages of full vaccinations by age group include 12-15 (31.1%), 16-20 (36.2%), 21-30 (38%), 31-40 (47.5%), 41-50 (52.7%), 51-60 (59.9%), 61-70 (71.8%), 71-80 (80%), and 81+(74.2%).

Knox County Daily COVID-19 Cases 10.15.21 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

Local News

The Knox County Health Department has reported 61,419 confirmed cases and 15,893 probable cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. For the last week, the KCHD reported 658 confirmed cases and 459 probable cases compared with 906 confirmed cases and 421 probable cases the prior week. The current average of 94 confirmed cases per day reflects a drop from 129 per day last week.

Today, the KCHD is reporting 75 newly confirmed cases and 38 probable cases. Active cases now number 1,757, a drop from 2,210 a week ago. It is the lowest number of active cases reported in the county since August 4 (1,240).

Knox County COVID-19 Hospitalizations 10.15.21 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline, with the 19-hospital region reporting 327 hospitalizations from the virus, with 110 in area ICUs, and 81 on ventilators. A week ago, those numbers were 416, 125, and 99, respectively. 21 ICU beds are currently available in the region, up from 11 a week ago and the most available since early in the current surge.

The latest report from UT Hospital indicates a census of 79 COVID-19 patients, the same as a week ago. 85% those hospitalized are not vaccinated and the average age for COVID-19 patients in the ICU is 55. Covenant Hospitals report 178 confirmed COVID19 patients, down from 230 a week ago. They report 87% of COVID-19 ICU patients are unvaccinated with an average age of 60.

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital reports four pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations over the last week, down from five the week before. Two were 0-5 years-old and two were 12 years old or older. Of the older group, neither patient was vaccinated. As of the last report, three children remain hospitalized, with none in the ICU.

Deaths remain stubbornly high in the county, with 19 additional deaths from the virus reported this week, for an average of just below three each day. This is only one fewer than the week before. Of the 19 who died in the last week, three were between the ages of 18-44, seven were between the ages of 45-64, five were between the ages of 65-74, and four were 75 years old or older. 881 Knox County residents have now died of COVID-19.

Test demand continues to drop, with about 5,400 tests reported over the last seven days. The positive test rate of 12.7% reflects a solid drop of 5% since last week. Turnaround time for results is around 1.5 days.

Knox County COVID-19 Vaccinations 10.15.21 (Source: Knox County Health Department)

The pace of vaccinations has declined precipitously in the county, with 7,590 shots given this week, down from 12,033 given last week. First and second vaccination rates remain relatively stagnant, with 53.24% of Knox County residents fully vaccinated (up from 52.8% last week) and 57.4% having had at least one shot (up from 57.15% a week ago).

The Knox County Schools are not reporting this week, as they are on fall break. The University of Tennessee is reporting 28 active cases, down from 41 a week ago.