The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total 16,111 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 567 cases from the number on Monday afternoon. Of those people, 1,363 individuals have been hospitalized and 265 people have died, up 19 and 14 in 24 hours, respectively.
More than 10,600 test results were processed and reported since Monday, bringing the statewide total to 283,924 people tested.
Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey last week said daily case increases will fluctuate throughout the month as state health officials begin mass testing throughout prisons, long-term care facilities and public housing. That push, she predicted, will yield a higher number of positive cases.
The initiative has already revealed two more COVID-19 hotspots in Tennessee prisons. At CoreCivic's Hardeman County Correctional Facility in Whiteville and the state-run Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, nearly 460 inmates have tested positive for the virus.
Williamson County has 447 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, per the state's map. There have been 10 deaths and 6,844 negative tests thus far.
Fear of virus won’t be voting excuse
State officials said this week that fear of contracting coronavirus will not be enough for Tennessee voters to secure an absentee ballot in upcoming August and November elections.
Elections Coordinator Mark Goins told the Associated Press that “fear of getting ill does not fall under the definition of ill.”
Voters 60 years and older are already allowed to vote absentee without an excuse, and a state plan for the forthcoming election anticipates all of the state’s voters 60 years and older to vote by mail. Republicans in the legislature earlier this year squashed a Democratic plan to expand mail voting because of COVID-19.
Instead of expanded absentee voting, the state plan calls for Plexiglass dividers and other polling place precautions. Tennessee is among the states facing legal action over its refusal to expand absentee voting during the pandemic.
Bridgestone restarting rest of plants
Bridgestone Americas executives are rolling out the last phase of their plan to restart the tire giant’s factories in North America and Latin America. On Monday, they reopened passenger tire plants in Northern Ohio and North Carolina as well as operations in Brazil and Costa Rica. By month’s end, plants in Indiana and in Mexico will join them with only a factory in Monterrey, Mexico, still in limbo.
The plans, which piggyback on the April reopening of commercial tire plants, will mean more than 12,500 people in North America and some 8,700 people in South America will be back at work while following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials.
“We remain laser-focused on employee safety at all Bridgestone Americas facilities,” said Paolo Ferrari, president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas. “As our remaining facilities come back online, we will continue to take a measured approach and utilize the latest safety protocols.”