Tennessee Department of Health: ‘This is not the time to get back to normal’

State health officials are urging residents to wear face coverings as case numbers continue to rise. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State health officials are urging residents to wear face coverings as case numbers continue to rise. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

State health officials are urging residents to wear face coverings as case numbers continue to rise. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, Tennessee Department of Health officials are stressing the importance of social distancing and wearing face masks as the state and the region continue to see rising case numbers of coronavirus.

During a July 1 briefing, TDH Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey cautioned residents who have returned to normal travel and patterns. In the month of June alone, the state saw nearly 20,000 new coronavirus cases confirmed. In recent days, new cases have increased by more than 1,000 per day, according to TDH data.

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of positive cases in the past few weeks,” Piercey said. “While testing rates have also seen improvements, the growth in new cases can not be attributed to more testing alone. We have a growing problem in Tennessee—not only in our metro areas, but in our rural areas as well.”

Piercey said at least half of all cases confirmed are from an unknown source, also known as community transmission.

“This indicates that people are much more likely than they were in the past to acquire the infection when they're out and about trying to ‘get back to normal,’” she said. “Please listen carefully: This is not the time to get back to normal.”

Piercey said while many residents may be experiencing “quarantine fatigue,” they should work even harder on efforts to stay inside, practice social distancing and wear a face covering when out in public.

“Face coverings are one of the single most effective tools that we have to combat the spread of the virus, and when combined with distancing and frequent hand washing, we can halt or even reverse the trends of COVID-19 growth in Tennessee before our situation becomes even more dire.”

Additionally, Piercey said while hospital capacity remains relatively stable, hospitals across the state are reporting higher rates of hospitalization due to COVID-19, particularly in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville. She said the state still has hospital surge plans and alternative site plans in place.

For those still planning to travel, Piercey said she recommends getting tested for coronavirus both before and after traveling to ensure individuals have not contracted the virus as well as researching state travel restrictions. Some U.S. states, such as New York, have placed restrictions on those visiting from Tennessee and other states with a high virus spread rate, requiring them to quarantine for 14-day period.

Residents can find more statewide coronavirus data at www.tn.gov/health.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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