Williamson County continues seeing triple-digit increases in COVID-19. 

115 new cases came up on the state's report Thursday, with 8,892 is new overall number for the county since the pandemic began. 1,163 of those cases are considered active. 

7,665 people have either recovered or had their cases deemed inactive, while 64 have died. 97,624 negative tests have been conducted thus far. 

Statewide report 

The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 296,725 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 3,344 cases since Wednesday on 21,184 new test results — a 13.5 percent positivity rate. 

Of the total number of cases, 10,950 people have been hospitalized and 3,761 have died — up 55 and 27, respectively, from the numbers 24 hours earlier. 

The number of active cases in Tennessee has risen 17 percent in the past two weeks, with the state reporting 30,410 individuals currently infected with COVID on Tuesday.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID in the state is at its highest point yet, with more than 1,749 people now being treated for the virus at 114 hospitals. Hospital admissions attributable to COVID have grown 23 percent in the past two weeks.

In terms of capacity, the state reports that 13 percent (1,542) inpatient beds and 9 percent (190) of ICU beds remain available. Nearly 74 percent of the state's ventilator supply is still available. 

Nashville holds off on more restrictions as ICU capacity drops

Nashville city leaders are holding off on imposing additional restrictions on public spaces as hospital bed availability in the region drops to new lows. 

Nashville reported 540 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and only 6 percent of all ICU beds in Middle Tennessee remain available as the virus penetrates nearly every county in the state. By all metrics, the state is experiencing the worst wave of COVID on record, and while Nashville has yet to exceed case volumes experienced in July and August, the city's hospital bed availability levels are the lowest they've been since the start of the pandemic. 

In former outbreaks, Mayor John Cooper and his team imposed strict capacity limitations on stores and restaurants, shut down bars and closed off areas with high rates of transmission. This time around, as infections stem largely from private social gatherings between friends and families, that’s not the case.

“It’s important for people to understand we are in a community spread condition. Early on, it was not everywhere in the community and you could target certain areas with rules governing the public space where you feel would be especially effective,” Cooper said. “Right now, with community spread, it is everywhere. So we have to dig deep and double down and get right with what we know already works.”

Nashville is still operating under a mask mandate and an amended phase three of the city’s reopening plan, which allows bars, restaurants and other commercial businesses to operate at 75 percent capacity, among other guidelines. Cooper encouraged everyone to take personal responsibility by wearing a mask, social distancing and ensuring Thanksgiving doesn’t turn into a super-spreader event. 

If regional hospitals are unable to manage the surge, Cooper said the county will have to intervene. So far, hospitals in the area have kept up with the recent rise in admissions — but finding enough clinicians to staff surge plans remains a major concern.

State announces more rural testing, flu vaccine initiative

The Tennessee Department of Health and National Guard will continue providing free drive-thru COVID testing in five rural counties across the state on Saturday. 

Testing will be free to anyone who wants a test, and drive-thru locations will be set up in Hardin, Bedford, Giles and Bradley counties from 9 a.m. to noon. The state will also provide free flu vaccines at every county health department on Nov. 19 as part of its “Fight Flu TN” initiative. No appointment is necessary. 

According to historical vaccine data, fewer than half of all Tennesseans receive a flu vaccine each year. 

“We want to make every effort to prevent the ‘twindemic’ of both COVID-19 and influenza in Tennessee, in order for our residents to stay healthy and for our hospitals not to become overwhelmed,” Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said in a press release. “Vaccination is still the best protection we have against this serious and potentially deadly illness, and I strongly encourage everyone to get a flu shot this year, even if you normally don’t get one.”

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

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