NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed additional cases and deaths related to COVID-19 across the state on Monday, August 24.
The health department reported 667 new cases, bringing the state to 144,604 total cases, a .5% day-to-day increase since Sunday. Of the total cases, 141,591 are confirmed and 3,013 are probable.
Monday’s update becomes the state’s lowest increase of new cases since June 22 (451 cases).
Tennessee’s seven-day new cases average dropped slightly to 1,409 additional cases per day.
TDH also confirmed 21 additional deaths, bringing Tennessee up to 1,588 total deaths. Monday is the 13th day in August the state department has reported 20+ deaths.
Out of the confirmed positive cases, 106,041 have recovered, an increase of 1,987 recoveries.
The latest number of hospitalizations went up by 43 to 6,421. A note on the department’s website states this total is an indication of the number of patients that were ever hospitalized during their illness and not an indication of the number of patients currently hospitalized.
Of the 144,604 cases, 73,283 are female (51%), 70,013 are male (48%), and 1,308 are pending (1%).
Tennessee has processed 2,056,341 tests with 1,911,737 negative results. The percentage for positive cases remains around 7%. Monday’s update added 14,085 tests to the state’s total.
COVID-19 in Nashville
Earlier today, Metro Public Health Department officials reported 25,326 cases of COVID-19 in Davidson County.
Schools Moving Forward
Earlier this month, the Department of Education released a new online dashboard to help track a school’s status on offering in-person learning, virtual learning, or a hybrid. Though one of the initiatives is already being removed. On August 14, TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn sent a letter to lawmakers stating Gov. Bill Lee asked the department to remove the guidance on the plans for the child well-being checks.
Parents are questioning what they need to know to keep their kids safe during the pandemic and if the state is releasing enough information. Student privacy has become an ongoing national conversation in the wake of coronavirus with many questioning what information may be released and what should be kept private.
On August 18, Dr. Schwinn pointed to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as a top reason why the state won’t release specific COVID-19 data on students. She said local districts must make their own decisions on what to report.
The state addressed guidelines that could keep someone in isolation up to 24 days if they are exposed to COVID-19. Several school districts highlighted the 24-day quarantine period in communication with families this week, but the state said the guideline is nothing new.
Just weeks into school starting for many counties in Middle Tennessee, several cases have shut down school classrooms, grades and even entire schools.
Another issue schools are facing is vacancies. Districts all across Tennessee are in need of teachers and support staff. The state blames the pandemic for limiting traditional recruiting methods. Regardless, as classes begin, pages and pages of job postings fill websites for local school districts.
COVID-19 & Sports
High School Sports
Gov. Lee announced Executive Order No. 55 would include Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association member schools in an exception to contact sports restrictions. He officially signed the order on July 31. A day after Lee’s announcement, school leaders in Davidson sent out a letter to all schools in the county asking to cancel all sports and extracurricular activities until after Labor Day.
On August 18, a letter was sent to the TSSAA, signed by State Representative Scott Cepicky and 19 others in the General Assembly reading, “We strongly urge the TSSAA to move forward with the fall sports season.”
“You look at all of the health protocols that all of our high schools are taking right now, temperature checks, watching our students and keeping them as healthy as possible,” said Cepicky, “I think there are enough measures in place for our kids to safely return to the field.”
Others disagree. Last week when Cepicky asked other members of the legislature to consider signing the letter, Rep. Antonio Parkinson said he couldn’t support.
“I just couldn’t in good faith support the idea of pushing our children and encouraging our children to be out there playing contact sports,” said Parkinson, “When we know how contagious it is, and how much it’s spreading right now.”
On August 11, the Big 10 and Pac-12 became the first two Power Five conferences to postpone fall sports. Later that day, both the SEC and ACC released statements announcing, as of now, their plans to stay on course with their current plans for the season. Later in the week, the Ohio Valley Conference became the final FCS conference to pull the plug on the fall season when it announced it would postpone fall sports action and championships.
During Governor Lee’s news briefing on August 18, University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Athletic Director, Phillip Fulmer, spoke about how they will approach football season this fall amid the ongoing pandemic. “We are anticipating somewhere around the 25 percent mark and we hope to be able to achieve that.”
Fulmer also addressed other safety protocols they are taking this season in Knoxville.
On August 20, Vanderbilt released a statement regarding confirmed positive COVID-19 cases on the university’s football team. Football practice was cancelled Friday. The university also paused football activities. “We will continue to follow our safety guidelines and implement additional measures as necessary while we look forward to resuming team activities,” the university announced in a statement released on Friday.
Mayor John Cooper announced August 18 that no spectators will be allowed at Nissan Stadium in Nashville though at least September, including during Nashville SC and Tennessee Titans games.
Bubbles have been extremely successful for other professional leagues including; NBA, WNBA, NHL, and MLS. There won’t be a bubble for the NFL regular season, but the league will consider a postseason bubble. Executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said having a bubble-like environment would go further in protecting players, coaches, and staff members from COVID-19 during an important part of the season.
The NFL is investigating an uncharacteristic increase in positive tests from a New Jersey lab that forced multiple teams to alter football activities Sunday.
Tennessee’s Coronavirus Response
On August 10, Vanderbilt released a new modeling report which shows the relationship between face mask mandates and hospitalization rates in Tennessee.
Last week, Lee announced $61 million will be awarded in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund grants to improve access to broadband internet across the state.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a grant Saturday for Tennessee under the Lost Wages Assistance program that would give unemployed residents who are out of work an additional $300 a week on top of state-provided unemployment assistance.
In June, the Tennessee Department of Health announced changes to its format for sharing COVID-19 data. The department’s total number of cases and total deaths now include both laboratory-confirmed cases and probable cases as defined in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveillance case definitions. – Learn more about the changes here.