NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE/AP) — Tennessee reported 728 new coronavirus cases on Saturday — a 1.8% increase on the heels of the largest single-day increase on Friday — to bring the total to 40,172.
Deaths rose to 584 on Saturday, an increase of seven from Friday — a 1.2% increase, the Tennessee Department of Health reported.
Some 26,159 people have recovered from the virus. There have been 2,564 people hospitalized and 748,229 have been tested.
Tennessee health officials on Friday reported the biggest one-day jump in people testing positive for COVID-19, the second time that’s happened within a week.
The record was reported not long before Nashville joined Memphis in moving this week to require people to wear face masks in many public settings. Nashville’s health board voted to have staffers draw up the details of an order by Sunday evening.
“I think this policy needs to be written and executed in the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Alex Jahangir, Nashville health board chairman and leader of the city’s COVID-19 task force. “Every day we wait, people die. I’m just being honest. Masks save lives.”
In Chattanooga, meanwhile, Mayor Andy Berke said his team is looking into whether his city has authority to mandate masks. Statewide, Republican Gov. Bill Lee has not called for a mandate for mask-wearing in public.
The state Health Department said in its daily report Friday that more than 1,400 people have newly tested positive. That tops the one-day high total of nearly 1,200 new confirmed cases last Friday.
The previous high came in May, when a slew of results came in from prisoners at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, where nearly 1,300 inmates and 50 workers have tested positive.
The growth comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000.
Additionally, U.S. officials estimated Thursday that 20 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus since it first arrived in the U.S., meaning that the vast majority of the population remains susceptible.
The estimate is roughly 10 times as many infections as the number of cases that were confirmed as of Thursday.
Lee has been reluctant to reinstate restrictions that were peeled away during the ongoing economic reopening, saying the death rate, hospitalization data and health care capacity are the most important metrics to watch.
In his most recent news conference Tuesday, Lee said people now know “what causes this, how it’s spread and how we can protect ourselves from it, so that changes the responsibilities that government has to provide safeguards.”
“People know and have personal responsibility for whether or not they go to a bar, or whether or not they go to an event, or whether or not they wear a mask, or whether or not they wash their hands,” Lee said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and even be fatal.
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