The cost to equip a medical provider with personal protective gear at one Tennessee hospital has increased 12-fold, from $2 to $25, in the past month, according to Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton. 

WPLN reported Tuesday that Cookeville Regional Medical Center is struggling to keep up with the high demand for PPE with the increased pricing — a symptom of a national shortage of face masks and other materials health care providers need in combating COVID-19.

Area crafting groups have been contributing to the national shortage by producing makeshift masks — and even face shields — by the thousands, according to their latest tally. A local sewist worked in conjunction with a surgeon from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to create a face mask pattern so others can contribute as well.

HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen made an appearance at the White House Tuesday afternoon for the coronavirus task force press briefing, where the company was honored for its contribution to a ventilator-sharing stockpile program that brings together unused ventilators from multiple large hospital systems and distributes them based on need. 

HCA has declined to release how many ventilators it contributed to the nearly 4,000 reserved in the new program, but officials said they have plenty to meet demand at their individual facilities through the duration of the pandemic. 

The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed 5,823 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 213 cases from the figure of Monday afternoon. Of them, 633 individuals have been hospitalized and 109 people have died, up 54 and 15 in 24 hours.

Nearly 2,700 test results have been processed and reported since Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 78,800 people tested.

In Davidson County, health officials have confirmed 1,457 cases of the virus, of which 62 Nashville residents are currently hospitalized and 16 have died. So far, nearly 15,000 people have been tested in the county.

Gov. Bill Lee and Mayor John Cooper have both extended their Safer-at-Home orders until the end of the month, and have indicated an interest in beginning to re-open the economy by May. Researchers at HCA and VUMC have said social distancing precautions are working to slow the spread.

Lee and his team are scheduled to announce a new phase of COVID-19 testing Wednesday, which public health officials have said should expand the state's capacity even more. The state is already seeing a roll-back on some parameters required to receive a test as varying symptoms of the infection become more widely known and test kits are more widely available. 

Hospitals and state and local governments continue to prep for the surge, which late last week state models estimated will come in May or June, depending on continued social distancing precautions. 

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

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