The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 18,532 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 154 cases from the number on Tuesday afternoon.

Of those people, 1,515 individuals have been hospitalized and 309 people have died, up 17 and four in 24 hours, respectively.

Nearly 7,890 test results were processed and reported since Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 354,013 people tested.

Williamson County's cases of COVID-19 Wednesday stayed at 492 overall, and the death toll hasn't moved from 10 people in some time, per the state's map. Negative tests are still at 8,005 as well. 

State still focused on nursing homes

The Tennessee Department of Health remains concerned about the possibility of further COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities around the state.

On a call Wednesday, Commissioner Lisa Piercey urged lawmakers to encourage facilities in their districts to seek out targeted testing if they hadn’t already. About half of the state’s deaths from the disease have come from long-term care facilities, Piercey said.

State officials are working on a plan to once again allow for visitation at such facilities, but the federal government recommends weekly retesting of facility staff members and Piercey called that “a high bar,” given the roughly 70,000 such employees across the state.

“We know that this is where our bad outcomes are more likely to come from,” she said.

State working through COVID jobless backlog

Tennessee Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord on Wednesday told lawmakers that his office is working through a historic level of unemployment claims.

More than 500,000 people have filed for unemployment assistance in the state since lockdowns began in March, and more than 300,000 continue to do so. About 50,000 people’s claims are still pending, McCord said, including some dating back to March.

The number of pending claims is down about 30,000 from a few weeks ago, he said. But a continued high volume of phone calls from those seeking assistance continues to be “an issue for and us and worrisome for us,” McCord added.

Due to the backlog, some Tennesseans have begun contacting their state representatives directly. McCord said his department expects to make it through those legislative tickets later this week or early next week but that it has “gotten to be quite the backlog."

This post originally appeared in our sister publication, the Nashville Post

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