NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed additional cases and deaths related to COVID-19 across the state on Thursday, December 17.

The department reported 8,945 new cases, putting the state at 493,230 total cases, a 1.8% day-to-day increase since Wednesday. Of the total cases, 493,230 are confirmed and 49,125 are probable.

There are currently 68,661 active COVID-19 cases in Tennessee, the highest number of active cases since the start of the pandemic.

Tennessee’s seven-day new cases average increased to more than 9,000 for the first time with 9,180 additional cases per day, while the 14-day new cases average rose to 7,498.

Of the 493,230 cases, 260,354 are female (53%), 228,925 are male (46%), and 3,951 are pending (1%).

TDH confirmed 177 additional deaths, bringing the state up to 5,845 total deaths. This marks the state’s highest single-day increase for deaths, surpassing the previous record of 100 set on December 8. The state is averaging 73 new deaths per day during the month of December.

Out of the total positive cases, 418,724 are listed as inactive/recovered, an increase of 6,881 in the last 24 hours.

The state once again reported a new record for current COVID hospitalizations. There are 2,897 people currently hospitalized in Tennessee. The number of total COVID hospitalizations now sits at 13,537.

Tennessee has processed 5,147,733 tests with 4,654,503 negative results. The percentage of positive cases increased for a seventh straight day, it currently sits at 9.6%. Thursday’s update added 32,933 tests to the state’s total with 21.5% percent positive cases.

Thursday is now the state’s fourth-highest single-day increase of cases. The last five days all now rank as Tennessee’s top five single-day increases for new cases.

  1. Dec. 16: 11,410 new cases
  2. Dec. 13: 11,352 new cases
  3. Dec. 14: 10,319 new cases
  4. Dec. 17: 8,945 new cases
  5. Dec. 15: 8,251 new cases

The state has reported an increase of 50,277 new cases this week, making it the worst week for new cases, surpassing last week’s record of 45,431.

Tennessee has reported an increase of 118,737 new cases in December so far, which already ranks as the state’s worst month for new cases of the virus. December has surpassed the previous record of 113,821 new cases set in November.

The CDC now lists Tennessee as the state with the highest average daily cases per 100,000 in the last seven days. The state is averaging 129.4 new daily cases per 100K in that time period. The second closest, Oklahoma, is averaging 98 new cases per 100K.

Tennessee’s top five single-day death increases have all been within the last month.

  1. Dec. 17: 177 deaths
  2. Dec. 8: 100 deaths
  3. Dec. 4: 95 deaths
  4. Dec. 3: 93 deaths
  5. Nov. 25: 92 deaths

Through the first 17 days of December, Tennessee has also reported 1,243 additional deaths, only six deaths shy of the record 1,249 the state reported in the month of November.

Thursday’s record-high 177 deaths are more than the state added during the entire month of April (176) or May (165).

Tennessee is expected to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers statewide Thursday.

The Tennessee Department of Health said 56,550 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were shipped Wednesday for delivery to 28 sites covering 74 Tennessee hospitals, which would arrive as early as Thursday.

The state expects to receive a second shipment of 56,500 doses of the vaccine approximately three weeks after the initial delivery.

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine was administered in Tennessee Wednesday afternoon at Clinical Research Associates on Church Street in Nashville. Dr. William Polk, a 62-year-old cancer surgeon, was the first recipient.

The COVID-19 surge is overwhelming Middle Tennessee hospitals and it’s exhausting resources and doctors. “We just want to have a fighting chance to do it,” said Dr. James Parnell. “Over the last couple of weeks, we are having a hard time taking care of our patients.”

Parnell, an ER physician at Sumner Regional Medical Center, says he and his colleagues are drained. He says right now, one out of every 100 Tennesseans has COVID-19.

Next week, TDH COVID-19 testing sites will begin offering self-testing kits to adults as staff members transition to administering vaccines to health care workers and first responders.

The new self-testing kits will be offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays beginning December 21. Individuals will stay in their cars, complete paperwork, and collect their samples. Health departments will submit their samples for testing. Results will be available online.

Self-tests will be available for adults over the age of 18. Children and adults unable to register online can still receive standard nasal swab COVID-19 tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

COVID-19 in Nashville

Earlier Thursday, Metro Public Health Department officials reported an increase of 1,099 COVID-19 cases in Davidson County, bringing the county’s total to 58,939.

The Nashville Office of Emergency Management and the Metro Public Health Department is asking for volunteers to help with Nashville’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.