TENNESSEE (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Health is wanting people to take precautions ahead of the Christmas season, citing staffing concerns at hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TDH Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey was part of a media briefing held Sunday, citing capacity concerns at hospitals. Dr. Piercey says hospitals can handle possible increases for capacity, but the issue lies with staffing concerns at hospitals.

Another concern, cited by Dr. Piercey, is the increase of COVID-19 cases during the Christmas holiday week. She said a growth in COVID-19 cases was reported after Thanksgiving, and issued a dire warning to those on the call.

“It will completely break our hospitals,” Dr. Piercey said about the potential of a Christmas surge.

She’s encouraging Tennesseans to not gather with those outside their household for the holidays, and to wear masks when possible.

Dr. Piercey said Knoxville hospitals are also nearing capacity for patients.

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