NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Dozens of Tennessee hospitals have stopped taking transfer patients because they are already overwhelmed during one of the nation’s worst recent outbreaks of COVID-19, the state’s top health official said Wednesday.
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said hospitalizations and deaths continue to be at a “critical stage” in the state now dealing with a post-Thanksgiving surge. Officials have pleaded with the public not to gather indoors with other households for Christmas and New Year’s and to wear a mask, which is required in public in some counties at the discretion of local officials, but GOP Gov. Bill Lee has not mandated the practice statewide.
The verdict on COVID-19′s spread during holidays won’t be known until early to mid-January, Piercey said.
“We’ve got dozens of hospitals that are not able to accept transfer patients because they are completely overwhelmed with their own patients and trying to make sure that they can continue to respond to any emergencies that come into their ER through an ambulance or walk-ins,” Piercey told reporters during a video conference call.
As people begin to mobilize for the holidays, Nashville International Airport, for one, has seen an uptick in the past few days to about 12,000 departing travelers on average a day, though the numbers remain down by 50% to 55% compared to last year at this time, airport spokesperson Kym Gerlock said Wednesday.
“Travelers’ plans remain fluid, so the projected numbers change,” Gerlock said.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, there were 1,762 new COVID-19 cases reported per 100,000 people in Tennessee over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 111 people in Tennessee tested positive in the past week.
The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Tennessee has risen from 67 on Dec. 8 to 93 on Tuesday.
Piercey said 32,330 people in Tennessee have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday morning. The state is working through an estimated 67,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, meant for hospital workers; 115,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine for smaller hospitals, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff, home health providers and student health providers.
State officials have announced another 40,000 Pfizer doses. On top of those, Piercey has said Tennessee expects 90,000 doses a week going forward, split between Pfizer and Moderna.
Additionally, Pfizer said Wednesday it will supply the U.S. government with an additional 100 million doses, though Piercey said it’s still unclear how many more vaccines that will equate to in Tennessee.
While most people with the virus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for others, including older patients and those with other health problems.
COVID-19 in Tennessee
(This reflects what the TDH reports each day. )
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