Coronavirus Timeline: December 2020

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TENNESSEE (WATE) — As the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Tennessee continue to climb and efforts to contain the spread ramp back up, federal, state and local officials are issuing updated responses and directives on an almost daily basis.

Reports indicate the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 originated in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization had declared the global coronavirus crisis to be a pandemic. Previously, WHO had declared the coronavirus as a public health emergency on Jan. 30. The first case of the novel coronavirus in the US had been reported in mid-January in Washington state. COVID-19 has since spread into the United States. The first case in Tennessee was reported confirmed by state health officials in Williamson County on March 5.

Below is a timeline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impacts in Tennessee and the East Tennessee region.

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MORE | Coronavirus information page
MORE | Tennessee Department of Health coronavirus information

Coming into the month of December, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 374,493 cumulative COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 30, including 4,602 deaths, 2,290 current hospitalizations and 328,710 inactive/recovered.

12/31: TDH reports 586,802 cumulative COVID-19 cases

The total COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is 586,802 as of December 31, 2020 including 6,907 deaths, 3,218 current hospitalizations and 508,914 are inactive/recovered.

12/29: 3,060 total current hospitalizations as well as 122 new deaths reported by the state health department

12/28: State reports 76 new deaths along with 130 new hospitalizations due to COVID-19

12/27: TN Dept. of Health reposts 69 new deaths along with 3,188 new cases of COVID-19

12/26: State releases COVID-19 report for Dec. 25 & 26

12/24: State reports 51 new deaths, and 7,108 new recoveries

12/23: State reports 111 new deaths and over 7,200 new cases of COVID-19

12/22: State reports 133 new deaths and 117 new hospitalizations due to COVID-19

12/21: State reports over 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 along with 65 new deaths

12/20: State releases COVID-19 report for Dec. 19 & 20

12/19: Tennessee Dept. of Health delays statewide COVID-19 case count report ‘due to the volume of tests being processed’

12/18: State reports 115 new COVID-19 related deaths

12:17: TDH reports record 177 new COVID-19 related deaths

12/17: COVID-19 active case count in Knox County tops 4,500

  • Active COVID-19 cases in Knox County reached a new high Thursday.
  • The Knox County Health Department reported three new deaths and 527 new cases among residents. There are now a record 4,562 active cases in Knox County, surpassing the previous record of 4,301 set on Tuesday.
  • There are 1,886 probable cases in Knox County, an increase of 240 from Wednesday.
  • December is the deadliest month for COVID-19 deaths in the county with 70 deaths reported so far, surpassing November’s record of 62 in roughly half the time. The previous record for most deaths reported in a single day in Knox County was eight on Dec. 10.

12:17: First shipment of Pfizer vaccine arrives UT Medical Center

  • The first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived at the University of Tennessee Medical Center around 8 a.m.

12/16: Tennessee hovers near highest rate of new COVID-19 cases

  • Frontline doctors say Tennessee hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients are struggling to find facilities where they can transfer sick people, even in neighboring states.
  • The comments from three physicians came Wednesday in a state that has surged near the top for new case rates.
  • The doctors have called for months on Republican Gov. Bill Lee to shift to a statewide mask mandate. Currently counties are allowed to decide for themselves whether to require masks in public.

12/16: State reports record-high 11,410 new cases of COVID-19

12/15: State reports 74 new deaths along with 102 new hospitalizations as new cases of COVID-19 rise by 8,251

12/14: State reports 10,319 new cases of COVID-19 as deaths and hospitalizations rise as well

12/14: State receives first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

12/13: State reports largest increase in positive cases as it adds 11,352 to the current count

12/12: State reports 5,400 total deaths from COVID-19

12/11: First COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in the United States

  • On Friday, Dec. 11 the U.S. FDA authorized approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States.

12/11: TDH reports 87 new deaths

12/10: TDH reports 69 new deaths

12/10: Knox County reports 8 more COVID-19 deaths, most in a single day

  • The Knox County Health Department reported eight new COVID-19 deaths, the most reported by the county in a single day.
  • Knox County had twice reported seven deaths in a single day, once on Nov. 17 and again on Dec. 2, though data on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard showed not all seven died the same day.
  • There are 146 Knox County residents currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, also surpassing a previous record of 142 set on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
  • The health department also reported 383 new cases of COVID-19 among county residents on Thursday. The active case count grew to 2,835 on Thursday with 16 new active cases reported.

12/9: State reports 62 new COVID-19 related deaths

12/9: Knox County Health Department COVID-19 benchmarks remain red for second week

12/9: Knox County reports one new COVID-19 death, 377 new cases after two record days

12/8: State reports 100 new deaths from COVID-19, a new single-day record

12/8: Active COVID-19 cases in Knox County have risen 48% in 2 days, hospitalizations at record-high

  • KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Current hospitalizations in Knox County reached another record-high Tuesday as the Health Department reported five new deaths and a record-number of new daily cases.
  • The active case count in Knox County has jumped 48.5% since Sunday. There are 2,946 active cases among Knox County residents as of Tuesday, up from 1,984 reported on Sunday.
  • The Knox County Health Department also reported 450 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the most new cases reported in a single day. It’s the second time Knox County has reported more than 400 new daily cases, surpassing a record set on Dec. 1.

12/7: Over 8,100 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the state along with 66 new deaths

12/6: 38 new deaths and 39 new hospitalizations reported by the TN Dept. of Health

12/5: State reports nearly 5,800 new recoveries and almost 5,000 new cases of COVID-19

12/4: State leaders say COVID-19 vaccine should arrive within the month

  • Local leaders received a potential timeline for getting the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine to Tennessee: Possibly Dec. 18 for the Pfizer vaccine and Dec. 22 for the Moderna vaccine.
  • The timeline was shared from a Unified Command briefing attended by local mayors, community leaders and lawmakers about the state plan for getting Tennesseans the shots they need to protect them from the virus.

12/4: Governor Bill Lee signs Executive Order No. 68

  • An executive order signed Friday by Gov. Bill Lee expands medical assistance to a state in which hospitalizations for COVID-19 are reaching crisis level.
  • The order authorizes several changes, including expanding the number of healthcare workers licensed to administer vaccines, authorizes calling up members of the National Guard and State Guard, and allows them to work in public or private ambulance services. The order also increases the number of hospital beds available.

12/4: Deaths continue to climb as state reports 95 new deaths and 4,356 new cases of COVID-19

12/3: Trolleys in Pigeon Forge shut down until mid-December

  • The Pigeon Forge Mass Transit System has shut down temporarily after employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to City Administrator Earlene Teaster.
  • “We just felt like it was a good thing because of our visitation that we not only protect our visitors, but we protect our employees, as well as their families,” Teaster explained.
  • She said the trolleys had been running on a shortened winter schedule with less staff. Out of about 30 employees including administrative staff members, Teaster said roughly 10-12 were either in quarantine or out sick.
  • “We can’t control what they do,” she said. “They do very great with the CDC guidelines while they are at work and while they’re certainly driving the trolley and so forth, but you never know who you’re exposed to after work or at work for that reason.”
  • Teaster said the trolleys will be cleaned while they are not in use.

12/3: Experimental COVID-19 antibody treatments underway in Knoxville

  • With a surge in COVID-19 cases expected and hospital capacity shrinking, East Tennessee health care providers are administering an experimental coronavirus antibody treatment believed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in a patient’s body.
  • Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody therapy, according to a joint press release by the coalition of hospitals, the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Covenant Health and Tennova Healthcare.
  • The treatment is being administered on an outpatient basis to people who met specific criteria to receive it.

12/3: State reports nearly 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 93 new deaths

12/2: State reports 96 new hospitalizations and 50 new deaths

12/2: Knox County sets COVID-19 benchmarks to worst since pandemic began

  • For the first time, all five benchmarks that gauge Knox County’s ability to manage an increase in COVID-19 cases while preventing transmission growth are in the red.
  • The Knox County Health Department uses five benchmarks to assess the local ability to manage increases in COVID-19 cases while preventing, “unobstructed growth of transmission.”

12/1: State reports 380,186 cases of COVID-19, and 4,638 deaths

12/1: Knox County daily COVID-19 cases top 400 for the first time

  • Knox County reported over 400 new daily COVID-19 cases for the first time on Tuesday, in addition to reporting five new COVID-19-related deaths.
  • Knox County reported 437 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, marking the first time Knox County Health Department has reported more than 400 new cases in a single day.
  • It’s the biggest one-day increase since the onset of the pandemic, topping the previous record of 373 reported on November 17. Knox County confirmed its first COVID-19 case on March 12. Between March 12 and June 2, Knox County reported 433 total COVID-19 cases.

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