The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 27,869 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 294 cases from the number on Tuesday, continuing an upward trend of infections across the state a month and a half into its reopening.
Of those cases, 18,516 have recovered, 1,990 have been hospitalized and 436 people have died — up 503, 16 and one, respectively, from the numbers 24 hours earlier.
A total of 7,438 test results were processed and reported since Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 528,635 people tested.
The state now has more active COVID-19 cases than ever before, and daily case volumes continue to trend upward with few exceptions. Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey told reporters on Wednesday this was expected, and the situation is being monitored very closely.
Gov. Bill Lee indicated capacity of the health care system — which his administration has enhanced in the past few months with the addition of inpatient and ICU beds, as well as ventilators and other supplies — across the state has remained stable, although those figures are not publicly reported.
“It’s not unexpected given that folks are out and about much more, moving around our state,” Lee said. “It’s very important that we follow this information."
Williamson County cases are at 654 as of Wednesday, with 11 deaths and 11,256 negative tests conducted, per the state.
State releases guidance to allow visitors at long-term care facilities
Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command on Wednesday released guidance allowing long-term care facilities in Tennessee to provide a limited number of visitors to their residents.
Facilities will be allowed to re-open to visitors after all staff and residents have been tested and if a case of COVID-19 hasn’t been identified within the community during the previous 28 days, among other prerequisites.
When these guidelines are met, nursing homes and other facilities must limit the number of visitors and enforce social distancing and mask requirements, as well as screen guests for symptoms and temperature checks.
The state has outlined three options for nursing homes to facilitate guests with residents, including having them meet outside, using a visitation booth or protective barrier within a resident’s room if the visitor has tested negative for COVID-19 in the 72 hours leading up to the visit.
Infections at long-term care facilities are “much worse than those in the general population,” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey told reporters on Wednesday. “Our top priority is the safety of residents and staff. We want to balance that with their social, emotional and psychological well being. Please give these facilities some grace. It’s going to take them several days or perhaps longer to be able to comply with our strict guidelines.”
The state has been facilitating mass testing at long-term care facilities since the beginning of May. Initially scheduled to be complete by May 31, the deadline was extended to the end of June after the state failed to meet the original deadline. Lee on Wednesday said all facilities in the state will have completed their first round of testing by Friday, and retesting will occur as needed.