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.

Here are some plots, 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. It also uses the rds-r package from Plots created on 2020-07-09 09:00:14. I use ggplot2’s geom_smooth() function for the smoothed regression plots with its default formula, which uses loess smoothing for this many points. This is not based on a model of disease spread or anything similarly sophisticated, just drawing a smooth curve to summarize noisy points (see here for more details).

The number of new and active cases should be not be going up if things are well-controlled, and ideally should be going down. The number of active cases is the number of positive cases minus the total of recovered or deceased cases: note it is from those tested and shown to be positive, but there are likely more people with covid who have not been tested. This uses data from Note that the number of active cases in Knox County reported by the state differs from the county website, sometimes dramatically (on June 16, the county website said 102 active cases, while the state says 178, for example) – I suspect this is based on the number of recovered cases not being updated as quickly in the state data, but I do not know. Knox County does not seem to offer a download of their data through time, so I am using the state’s data. The number of new cases per day seems to align fairly well, but not perfectly, between the state and county data, too.

A question is whether testing is adequate. The White House has said about 30 tests per 1000 people per month is adequate (this is also what ProPublica uses); others have argued that around 45 tests per 1000 people per month is better, though with variation depending on infection rate (see here). These are the black lines on the plots below (calculated as tests per day, given Knox County’s population of 470313).

Another way to look at testing (or disease spread) is to look at the proportion of positive tests (“positivity rate”): they can go up if a greater proportion of symptomatic people are being tested and/or if the frequency of the disease is increasing. WHO recommends testing should be 10% positive or lower (black line). Here, I’m including two nearby counties, Anderson (home of Oak Ridge) and Sevier (home of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville).

Which age groups are being infected is an important question as local schools open up. These are data from Knox county alone.

Another question is what is happening at UT as campus opens up and testing ramps up. There is some information on active cases available.

I’ve been curious about how active people have been – are they still going out, etc. The webcams at the bottom of the page are a glimpse of that, but Google has also been tracking activity data. Here are smoothed plots of activity over time, as a percentage of activity pre-COVID19 (the raw data are much more variable).


Currently, regional hospitals have 21 ICU beds available of 272 total, and 144 available ventilators out of 242 total. When a line hits 100%, 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 not updated frequently, so current conditions maybe be much better or worse than these plots show. Data from

Trends in hospitalization of covid patients over time

Local webcams

Downtown Gatlinburg webcam, a tourist town near us

Newfound Gap in the Smokies

Note that at night there are typically no lights here, so it will be a black screen. During the day you can see a parking lot in the mountains.