TN averaging 40+ new COVID-19 daily hospitalizations, physicians call for mayors to issue mask mandates


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Area physicians continue to plea with mayors to require masks. As of Wednesday, our state’s ICU bed capacity dropped below 400, with COVID-19 patients filling 100 ICU beds over a matter of days.

Now, critical care doctors in Tennessee are warning that we are heading for disaster and must act fast.

“We feel defeated,” said Dr. Aaron Milstone, a Pulmonologist at Williamson Medical Center, “Every day we’re putting our lives on the line to protect the public and unfortunately our state has left us out on a limb.”

On Tuesday alone, state health data showed our state’s hospitals are averaging 40+ new COVID-19 patients per day, with Dr. Milstone saying we’re weeks away from becoming like Arizona or Texas.​

Area doctors say right now, we have three interventions we know work:

  1. Washing hands
  2. Staying apart
  3. Wearing masks

But some, like the mayor of Pleasant View doesn’t believe this should be a one-size-fits-all approach.

“I understand where the doctors are coming from, and believe me they’re much smarter than I am when it comes to how to combat this virus, but also you have enough doctors now that are contradicting each other that there is still a great deal of unknown when it comes to this virus,” Mayor Perry Keenan said Thursday.

News 2 asked Dr. Milstone why there is a conflict among doctors and scientists on the masks?

Dr. Milstone responded by saying: “I realize again and again we have no vaccine, I realize again and again that drugs like steroids and Remdesivir may help a little bit but the vast majority of patients I’ve given those drugs to don’t seem to work much​. We’re losing the battle and the tie to intervene is now.”

According to ProtectMyCare, a coalition of Tennessee doctors and healthcare workers advocating for the health and wellbeing, interventions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect lives are:

  1. Issue and enforce a mask requirement.
  2. Have accountability for employers and people who intentionally endanger others by not adhering to social distancing and masking recommendations.
  3. Ensure rapid and regular testing.
  4. Expand contact tracing and regularly report on it.

Dr. Milstone says if you want to know whether or not a mask works or doesn’t, look at Europe.

“The one thing that is different in Europe is that every citizen in every European country is wearing a mask without question and they’ve not only flattened the curve in most European countries, they’ve squashed the curve.”

Still, our state remains divided.

“I don’t think it correlates quite like it does in other communities where you have so many people on top of each other and they can’t socially distance. Then, in those situations, yeah, a mask mandate maybe how it needs to go, but places like here, definitely not,” said Mayor Keenan.

The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and American Nurses Association issued a letter to the public asking Americans to wear a mask.

Keep in mind, if you’re wearing a mask, you’re preventing someone else from getting the virus from you. If you want to prevent yourself from getting the virus, Dr. Milstone said it’s important to not touch your face or eyes and wash your hands often.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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