Tennessee seeing ‘positive trends’ in social distancing efforts; death and hospitalization rates could rise this week

Tennesseans are still urged to practice social distancing. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Tennesseans are still urged to practice social distancing. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Tennesseans are still urged to practice social distancing. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

As residents across the state continue to follow social distancing guidelines, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said those practices may be beginning to pay off.

In an April 6 press conference, Lee said over the past two days, Tennessee has seen some “positive trends” related to the coronavirus outbreak.

As of Monday, the state had 3,802 cases. That number is an increase of 169 since Sunday, but it is a smaller rise than seen during the past four days, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health.

“It is a welcome relief to get some good news, but we also want to encourage Tennesseans that while we have received some good news, we need to stay vigilant in our efforts,” Lee said. “Social distancing works, and the improvement in numbers that we’re seeing today are the result of decisions that we made two and three weeks ago. We still need Tennesseans to remain home if they’re able to do, in spite of encouraging information.”

TDH Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey reiterated Lee’s statement and emphasized that residents should not take the news of lower new case numbers as a sign that social distancing is no longer needed.

“This is the time to keep pushing forward because what you’re doing is working,” Piercey said.

However, Piercy added that the state is also seeing an increase in the number of hospitalizations and deaths, as those who have been confirmed to have the virus get increasingly ill after a two-week period.

“[W]e’re starting to see the increase in hospitalizations and deaths from the swift uptick that we had a couple of weeks ago. As you may have heard the surgeon general say, and as Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and Dr. [Deborah] Birx said in a call this morning, this is going to be a pretty tough week for both hospitalizations and deaths, so please, remember those families in your thoughts and in your prayers.”

Lee also announced the state is working to provide $10 million in grants for small, rural hospitals that have been hit hard by coronavirus cases in recent weeks. Lee said the grants will help to bridge any gaps in funding until federal aid is received.
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.