The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 39,444 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 1,410 cases since Thursday from 14,469 new test results. Of the total cases, 25,753 people have recovered, 2,498 have been hospitalized and 577 have died — up 473, 67 and 10, respectively, from the numbers 24 hours earlier.
The number of active cases in Tennessee continues to rise. On Friday, the state reported another all-time high of 13,114 residents currently infected with the virus.
As of Friday afternoon, 19 percent of inpatient beds and 22 percent of ICU beds were available. Nearly 74 percent of the state's ventilator supply — which was low in March until the state purchased nearly 1,000 more — is still available.
Williamson County cases jumped into the 900s Friday to 912 overall per the state, 38 up from Thursday's tally (874). Since the daily tallies on Wednesday, the county has seen 102 new reported cases of the virus.
There have been 145 new reported cases of the virus in the county since last Friday.
14 county residents have died from the virus, and 15,603 negative tests have been conducted thus far.
Nashville will require residents to wear masks in public
By Stephen Elliott, Nashville Post
The Metro Board of Health on Friday directed health officials to order Nashville residents to wear face coverings in public as the city sees an increase in COVID-19 cases and its death toll nears 100.
The board unanimously issued the mandate during an emergency meeting Friday afternoon. The debate followed a dispute between Metro Health Director Michael Caldwell, who previously said it would not be helpful to mandate something that was difficult to enforce, and other Metro and health leaders.
Board Chair Alex Jahangir, who also leads the city's coronavirus task force, said he expects Caldwell to have a finalized order by Sunday at 5 p.m.
"We must do everything we can as a city to ensure the health and safety of our residents and visitors as we reopen," Jahangir said. "The data is clear: Wearing a mask helps reduce the spread of this disease."
The board left the specifics of a mask mandate to Caldwell and the Health Department. Caldwell and multiple members said enforcement of such an order would be difficult. One member of the board, Tené Hamilton Franklin, said the goal of the order should be to change behavior rather than punish those who disobey it.
Public-facing employees were already required to wear masks.
According to one study, Tennesseans are among the least likely to wear a mask as nearly 40,000 residents have contracted the disease.
Democratic leader calls for more contact tracing
House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart on Friday called on Republican Gov. Bill Lee to expand the state’s contact tracing capacity as the coronavirus pandemic continues its spread in Tennessee.
Stewart’s request comes after Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey on Tuesday said the state was working on expanding the tracing force, which remains at less than half the 2,000 tracers recommended by some experts. Piercey said the state doesn’t know where half of new COVID-19 cases are coming from, leading officials to believe community spread is the source.
Stewart said Lee should “personally step in and take charge of this situation.”
“Otherwise,” he said, “we are going to be facing a terrible disaster and going to be flying blind while we do it.”