I hope each of you are staying safe while getting out and enjoying the world. This week we’ve got lots of encouraging news. I’m still banking on a great spring and summer. I’m hoping live music and travel are back on my agenda. It feels to me as if the city is ready to explode with great things happening all around.
In that context, it might seem odd that this marks my third consecutive post that is COVID related. Rest assured I do not intend to make that a thing going forward. The article on Tuesday seemed important regarding a path forward for our schools. Based on comments and readership, many of you seem to agree — though we may disagree on specifics. Yesterday’s article and today’s just happened to fall together.
Please know that I write these articles because I think it is important for the community to have good information. It’s not because I have an agenda — or because I love writing about disease. Quite the contrary. My hope is that I see an exit ramp soon to focus more on the great things that are happening all around. Numbers have now dropped dramatically, but only to the levels they were when I resumed. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring.
Over the last week, just over 14.6 million new cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the world, and the decreasing numbers escalated, falling 21% this week after a 16% decline last week. Daily cases are now running about 2.1 million per day, down from last weeks’ 2.6 million. The current rate remains about 120% above the peaks of any of the previous surges, the worst of which topped out at about 828,000 new cases per day. The 71.2 million active cases globally is a welcome decline from last week’s pandemic record 74.6 million. There have been about 417.2 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Deaths, which lag cases both on the ascent and the descent, shifted downward this week, with a 7% decline to 70.2 thousand, for an average of 10,027 deaths per day. The current death rate is about 67.7% of the peak death rate reached in January 2021. Almost 5.9 million people have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Forty-eight countries have now vaccinated more than 70% of their population (up from 47 last week). Four countries have vaccinated fewer than 1% of their population, and 24 (down 1 from last week) have vaccinated less than 10%. The list of least vaccinated countries is dominated by African countries.
As it has from very early in the pandemic, the U.S. leads the world in cases with over 79.6 million and in total deaths with over 949,000.
For the first time in some months, however, the United States is not leading in new cases. Over the last week, the U.S. has averaged 141,557 new cases per day, fewer than both Russia (190,419) and Germany (182,940). New cases in the U.S. have dropped 67% over the last two weeks, and about 40% in just the past week. There are currently about 28.1 million active cases in the U.S., down about 700,000 from last week and from the pandemic record of 29 million active cases set two weeks ago.
COVID-positive hospitalizations in the U.S. now total 85,086, down from 111,094 last week, and down 38% in the last two weeks. An average of 2,328 U.S. residents are dying of COVID-19 each day, down from 2,573 a week ago and down about 12% over the last two weeks.
The U.S. has a 64% vaccination rate, ranking 61st in the world (down one spot from last week, as we were passed by Colombia). The U.S. ranks 20th in per capita cases in the world (among countries with at least 1 million in population, and down one from last week) and 15th in per capita deaths since the beginning of the pandemic (the same as last week).
New case numbers continue to drop sharply from pandemic highs reached just three weeks ago. The current report (which only goes through 2/12) includes encouraging numbers. The state reports an average of 5,018 new cases each day, down over 50% from 10,264 the previous week. The highest single day total reported in the week was just over 6,500, after a week in which the high was 21,772.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Tennessee has reported 1.97 million cases of COVID-19 and 23,404 deaths from the illness. The state remains fourth in most per capita cases in the U.S. and seventh worst in per capita deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the new state data published yesterday, an average of 54 Tennesseans died each day from COVID-19 last week, down eleven per day from the week before. Hospitalizations decreased by a net of 74 each day last week. About 14,700 tests per day were reported last week, down about 25% from the previous week. The average positivity rate for the week was 26.26%, down from 32.05% the previous week. The goal is 5%.
Hospital data, only updated to 2/8, showed 2,823 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in Tennessee, down 15.3% from the 3,332 reported last week. Of those in the hospital, 577 were in ICUs, down 13.2% from the 665 reported the previous week. 326 are on ventilators, down 7.4% from 352 the previous week. The latest pediatric report indicated 87 COVID-positive patients (down from 101), with 17 in ICUs (same as last week) and 3 on a ventilator (down from 10).
About 38,800 vaccinations were given over the last week, down from 42,000 the week before. Tennessee’s 52.5% vaccination rate earned 45th best out of the 50 states this week, the same as last week. Oddly, vaccinations are reported every day, unlike any other COVID-19 related data in the state.
Current (remember “current” means through last Saturday) numbers continue to show rapid improvement. Data reported through 1/29 indicates 96,133 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 28,327 probable cases, and 1,234 deaths in Knox County.
Over the seven days included in this data, the KCHD reported 2,017 confirmed new cases, for a daily average of 288 per day, down 42.7% from the week before, which follows a 40% drop the prior week. For the second consecutive period, we have not had a single day over 1,000, something that became common in the weeks before. The worst single day in this reporting period was 397, down from a high of 754 the previous week.
Probable cases, which likely included the portion of the home tests which are reported, also fell. After averaging 303 a day a week earlier, this reporting period revealed 110 per day.
After setting a pandemic record just two weeks ago, with 14,630 active cases, those numbers continue to plummet. In the latest data, the KCHD is reporting 5,663 active cases. As I said last week, this would have been a pandemic record just six weeks ago, so perspective is in order even as we celebrate the drop.
The number of COVID-positive patients in area hospitals also continues to slowly drop. The current 525 COVID-positive patients in area hospitals represents a 13.8% drop from last week’s reported 609 COVID-positive patients. The decline follows a drop of 7.6% the prior week, so the reduction may be escalating. There are 115 patients in ICUs (down from 129 the previous week) and 78 on ventilators (down from 85 the previous week).
UT Hospital reports 117 COVID-positive patients (down 17% from 141 the week before), with 89% unvaccinated and an average ICU age of 65. Covenant Hospitals are reporting 210 confirmed COVID-19 patients (down 14.2% from 277) at their various area hospitals, with a median ICU age of 67. 63% of their COVID patients are unvaccinated, and 59% of those requiring ICU support are unvaccinated.
An additional twenty-six COVID-19 deaths were reported in the county for the week ending February 12, up two from the previous seven-day period. In addition, the KCHD added one death to November’s total, one to December’s total, thirteen to January’s total, and 9 to previous periods in February, for a total of 50 additional deaths. Of those 50 deaths added today, one person (our first) was added to the 0-17 age group, one person was between the ages of 18-44, fourteen people were 45-64, eleven were age 65-74, and twenty-three were 75 or older.
Test demand dropped significantly in this reporting period from just under 14,000 to about 9,000. The state reports a 36.3% positive test rate as of the end of last week for Knox County, down from 39.8% the previous week. The goal is 5%. 58.99% of Knox County residents are fully vaccinated, up from 58.84% last week.
UTK is reporting 43 active cases, down from 90 a week ago. The Knox County Schools are currently reporting 67 known cases, down significantly from 139 reported one week earlier.