Local engineer Lynn Sebourn, who serves as a Coffee County commissioner, explains the curve created by the change of reported COVID-19 cases each day. The trend shows movement in a positive direction, but the number of administered tests is too small to make firm predictions.   

“Our cases in Tennessee are still going up, but the rate of growth has definitely slowed over the last week,” Sebourn said. “In the second plot you can see cases, hospitalizations and deaths plotted on a log scale.”

The trend looks optimistic.

“What we want to see is the upward line curving to the right until it becomes a flat line,” he said. “As you can see the line is definitely curving right, so great job with your social distancing.”

The next graph shows the new daily cases.

“This chart is probably most important,” he said. “If we were having exponential growth, the daily numbers would continue to increase like it was at first. But the last week has definitely seen a lower level, as shown by the orange line, which is a rolling average of the last several days.”

The limited number of tests done, however, makes any predictions uncertain.

“It would still be nice to have more testing of more people,” Sebourn said. “It's hard to tell if the numbers jumping up and down each day are just infections or indicates number of completed test results varying over time. The optimistic trend does not mean people should stop maintaining social distancing.”

“If the line has come down because we are all social distancing then what happens if we stop? It could very well start to rise again. This is the conundrum facing our civic leaders. Even if they loosen restrictions it will be important to keep taking safeguards such as six-foot distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands.”

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