NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee’s health and education commissioners spoke Friday at a virtual briefing.
Both Tennessee Health Commissioner, Dr. Lisa Piercey, and Education Commissioner, Penny Schwinn, shared statements and answered a handful of questions during the 30-minute session.
Dr. Piercey discussed a rise in pediatric cases in data from last month, nearly doubling over the last few weeks of July. There were 1,800 children with Covid reported for the week of July 18. The following week, the number jumped to 3,200.
The additional cases are putting an additional strain on pediatric hospitals, many of which are already full.
“They were full before, or nearing to be full before Covid hit kids in early July,” said Piercey. “So the extra Covid burden of children being hospitalized with Covid is likely just enough to tip the scales in some instances where RSV continues, where Covid continues and happens to grow.”
Piercey added another issue in play is the staffing concerns many hospitals are facing.
In the coming days, the Tennessee Department of Health will launch a dashboard tracking pediatric cases in hospitals.
As of August 5, there were 27 children hospitalized in Tennessee with COVID-19., 10 of them in the ICU.
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At a briefing earlier this week, Dr. Piercey said the state had seen a 200% increase in cases since July 1. The rise in cases also comes as students are returning to the classroom across Tennessee.
On Thursday, the Metro Nashville Board of Education adopted a universal mask policy for the start of the new school year, which begins next week.
On Monday, Tennessee’s House Speaker Cameron Sexton threatened school districts with potential legislative force if they choose to issue a mask mandate or close schools due to the pandemic.
Sexton responded to the Metro Schools’ decision, saying they are “starting discussions with house members.”