The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 24,822 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 447 cases from the number on Tuesday. Of those people, 16,319 have recovered, 1,829 have been hospitalized and 388 people have died, up 403, 37 and seven, respectively, in 24 hours.
Nearly 8,643 test results were processed and reported since Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 470,779 people tested.
Williamson County cases are up to 577 cases overall, per the state, with 11 deaths and 10,033 negative cases conducted.
Deer Run camp in Thompson's Station is under quarantine after 35 workers tested positive for the virus. It will remain closed until June 28 at the earliest.
COVID-19 testing demand falls
Demand for COVID-19 testing in Tennessee has gone down in recent weeks, according to Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, which she attributed in part to fewer people in the general population showing symptoms of having the virus.
Piercey said although it seems optimistic that fewer people are falling ill, the downtick in testing is concerning because it hamstrings public health officials’ ability to understand the virus’ spread and impact on infected people without obvious symptoms.
“It is still incredibly important for us to know how to take care of this pandemic and move forward in an intelligent way,” she told a group of lawmakers on Wednesday.
Piercey noted the lack of demand has helped Gov. Bill Lee’s administration to redeploy members of the National Guard — who were originally assigned to help health departments with swab collection and throughput — to mass testing initiatives as nursing homes, prisons and public housing communities.
Health commissioner doesn’t foresee aggressive mitigation efforts
Piercey also briefed lawmakers on the department’s data tracking and playbook for potential resurgences of the pandemic. Most significantly, she said she does not foresee implementing another round of aggressive mitigation efforts in the future.
She said the department is keeping a close eye on hospital assets and syndromic surveillance (monitoring real-time data on patients presenting to emergency departments across the state with influenza-like symptoms) as well as several other metrics to gauge any policy responses in the case of another massive outbreak.
While some public health officials are convinced another outbreak this fall and through winter is inevitable, Piercey said she doesn’t know whether the virus will pick up pace again when the weather begins to cool. She says diseases, in general, are more prevalent during the winter, and hospitals and the state need to be prepared for anything.
Even if that were the case, she said she is sure no one has the appetite for mass shut-downs again.
“Economic prosperity is an important part of health, too,” she said.