Here are notes and links I personally find useful, all gathered in one place. Mostly, I kept looking at webcams to see whether people are practicing social distancing and decided to put them all in one page. I also gather data when nervous, so I also have plots of things like testing, activity, and cases over time so I can see the info directly myself (for example, Knox County Health Department plots cases per day with a trendline, but so far their trendline is only a straight line - I was curious if a more flexible fitting might be more informative). I am not an epidemiologist, so please do not draw any advice from this page (and I’ve been careful NOT to do projections or anything like that – there is a lot that goes into modeling, see this video by my colleague Nina Fefferman, who unlike me is an expert in this, for more on models). This is just me poking around with the data to make myself feel better – the raw code is here if you’d like to examine it yourself.

Other sources for data and other information:

The following plots are created in R using data from (Guidotti, E., Ardia, D., (2020), “COVID-19 Data Hub”, Working paper, doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.11649.81763), as well as information from Google and the state of Tennessee dataset page and plotting and analysis using the forecast, ggplot2, reshape2, and dplyr packages. Plots created on 2021-08-04 06:29:17. I use a seven day rolling average for most plots using the geom_ma function of tidyquant.


The number of new should be not be going up if things are well-controlled, and ideally should be going down. I used to plot active cases, but how those are tracked has changed (it used to be based on recoveries, now it’s just a two weeek lag of active). This uses data from The number of new cases per day seems to align fairly well, but not perfectly, between the state and county data.

I plot five regions (though for simplicity, for some of the plots I omit East TN, and regions with no data automatically do not get plotted for certain measures)

Summary table

We can summarize all this information into a table showing the percentage of different populations who have gotten covid, died from covid, and been vaccinated against it to check for disparities. In many categories there is a substantial unknown, so the numbers in those areas might be low: for example, if 20% of the people being vaccinated have no race recorded, then adding up all the proportion of people in the race categories who are vaccinated will be lower than the total vaccinated. This is why, for example, the proportion of people with positive covid tests by race is lower than any grouping by sex: there are a lot more unknowns in the race category, and I don’t want to assume that the distribution of the unknowns matches the distribution of knowns. I am also treating as unknown categories that seem to have issues, such as mulitracial (very different count by the census than by the TN data) and other for sex in some data (gender is a spectrum, but the available data treat it as binary usually and call it sex; I follow this convention in the source data).

Category Group Positive Covid Test Covid Death At Least One Vaccination Fully Vaccinated
Race American Indian or Alaska Native 3.6% 0.04%
Race Asian 6% 0.06% 46.4% 40%
Race Black or African American 10.7% 0.19% 31% 25.4%
Race Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 10.3% 0.1%
Race White 10.6% 0.18% 35.9% 32.1%
Ethnicity Hispanic 13.9% 0.09% 40.8% 33%
Ethnicity Not Hispanic or Latino 9.6% 0.18% 39.9% 35.5%
Sex Female 13.7% 0.17% 48% 42.4%
Sex Male 12.5% 0.21% 41.2% 35.9%


Tennessee releases information on demographics of individuals getting vaccinated. All terminology follows that used by the state, including terms like race and sex. The way the census and Tennessee count individuals who identify as not being in Asian, White, or Black or African American groups (people who are multiracial, Native American, Pacific Islander, other) seems to differ in ways that make calculating the percentage of members of the these groups difficult; the same happens for people who do not identify as male or female.

One concern has been changes in the number of people getting vaccinated over time. These plots show for each demographic group the percentage of individuals in that group getting fully vaccinated (7 day rolling mean). There has been an expansion of who can get vaccinated: adults in high risk categories, all adults, children age 12 and up. These plots show the dramatic decrease in demand for getting vaccinated, despite the proportion of fully vaccinated people being well below what is recommended. The vaccination capacity is clearly higher than demand at the moment.

Cases locally

This shows cases locally. I’m zooming in on the most recent months: the huge peak around January 2021 obscures the current dynamics otherwise.

This shows the plot of percent of positive tests per week.

Tennessee now breaks out covid test results for school age children (age 5-18). The number of tests in this age group and the underlying population size aren’t known to me, so things like positivity rate and proportion of students infected cannot be determined, but the raw number of students infected can be shown (doing a seven day average):


As of the last time the data were updated (likely 7 days ago), regional hospitals had 10 ICU beds available of 317 total (so was at 97 percent capacity), and 283 available ventilators out of 416 total, (so was at 32 percent capacity). The hospitals overall had 452 beds available of 3084 total (so was at 85 percent capacity). This is based on 19 acute care hospitals in the East TN region; based on the 14 counties these hospitals are in, these serve at least 1,235,720 people. When a line hits 100% (indicated in red), the local hospitals are theoretically full for that resource (for all patients, not just covid patients), though there is surge capacity on top of this. Note that these data are updated only weekly, so current conditions maybe be much better or worse than these plots show. Data on capacity from Knox County’s dashboard, data on hospitalizations and testing over time from the state data.

Trends in hospitalization of covid patients over time. The vertical dotted line shows the last day with updated capacity information from Knox County, when there were 10 ICU beds available (ignoring surge capacity) for people in the East Tennessee region. The seven day average is shown.

Red shows full capacity for our region, when every ICU bed is full (ignoring any surge capacity):

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Another question is what is happening at UTK. There is official information available at, of which I show one figure below. CDC guidance for institutions of higher education who don’t require vaccination, which includes UTK, is here. Knox County is currently an area with substantial to high covid spread, so the CDC recommendation is that everyone wear masks indoors, even those fully vaccinated.

In the 2020-2021 school year, UT published results of saliva tests. ALL students residing in dorms, fraternities, or sororities agreed to testing. This table shows testing results of saliva tests:

We can also use the UTK saliva data to estimate the number of new cases in the 2020-2021 school year: the proportion of students who ultimately test postive out of those tested by the saliva scans. Given poor compliance, the true proportions may be much higher than this (if students want to endanger others by not isolating, they may avoid testing if they think they have been exposed).

I am converting the saliva test info to new cases per 100K. I am adopting the assumption that Knox County uses that new cases are only active for 14 days, so I’m computing the new case estimate as 1/14 the active case estimate. I include the 95% confidence interval for the estimate of new cases per 100,000 people, though this is an underestimate of the uncertainty (are dorms good random samples or are results clustered, are students who refuse testing similar to those who get tested, etc.).

We can also see the compliance rate of students with testing. For 2020-2021, all students signed a pledge showing their willingness to abide by community standards. Those in residence at UT agreed to saliva testing. I do not yet know of the current plan for such testing for Fall 2021: go to for the official news on UT’s plans.