September becomes Tennessee’s deadliest month during COVID-19 pandemic

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COVID-19 in Tennessee – Continuing Coverage (WKRN Graphics)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed additional cases and deaths related to COVID-19 across the state on Wednesday, September 30.

The health department reported 1,528 new cases, bringing the state to 196,139 total cases, a .8% day-to-day increase since Tuesday. Of the total cases, 188,505 are confirmed and 7,634 are probable.

Tennessee’s seven-day new cases average decreased slightly to 1,347 additional cases per day.

Of the 196,139 cases, 100,276 are female (51%), 94,092 are male (48%), and 1,771 are pending (1%).

The number of total hospitalizations now sits at 8,733. There are 806 people currently hospitalized.

Out of the confirmed positive cases, 179,332 are listed as inactive/recovered, an increase of 1,387 in the last 24 hours.

Tennessee has processed 2,876,722 tests with 2,680,583 negative results. The percentage for positive cases remains around 6.8%. Wednesday’s update added 23,655 tests to the state’s total.

TN’s Deadliest COVID-19 Month

TDH also confirmed 34 additional deaths, bringing Tennessee up to 2,454 total deaths. Wednesday’s update now makes September the deadliest month for Tennessee since the start of the pandemic. The state has reported 700 deaths since the start of the month, surpassing August’s increase of 694 deaths.

Over the month of September, the state announced an average of 23 deaths each day and recorded its second-highest single-day increase of 57 on September 10.

COVID-19 in Nashville

Earlier Wednesday, Metro Public Health Department officials reported an increase of 94 COVID-19 cases in Davidson County, bringing the county’s total to 29,005.

The Tennessee Titans home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for Sunday has been postponed after four Titans players and five staffers tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the NFL said the game would be rescheduled to “allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.”

During his weekly coronavirus news conference last week, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced, beginning October 1, bars and restaurants will be allowed to have 100 patrons per floor with an additional 100 patrons at an outside location, including a patio or rooftop, at up to 50% capacity. All bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m.

Cooper said Phase Three will also allow events of up to 30% capacity or 500 people with a plan approved by the Metro Public Health Department. That will authorize the Grand Ole Opry to have an in-person audience of 500 for its 95th-anniversary show on Saturday, October 3.

Governor Bill Lee announced on Tuesday the State of Emergency in Tennessee will continue through October with adjustments made to the previous order.

Lee also signed Executive Order No. 63 to extend certain, targeted provisions of previous executive orders through October 30, including the authority of local governments to institute mask requirements. Remaining restrictions on businesses and gathering sizes in the 89 counties with a state-run health department have been removed.

Schools Moving Forward

Following the release of what has been considered “unprecedented” data, Governor Lee said he will address reading and writing deficiencies for Tennessee 3rd graders.

Both he and State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn say it’s an urgent situation that preliminary data from her department projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd-grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in math proficiency.

“Now we have some data to substantiate what we expected,” said Governor Lee Wednesday. “We will not wait until January to begin…to develop a plan to address it. Absolutely not.”

Lee added he’ll address the dramatically dropping proficiencies for 3rd graders within weeks, but Education Commissioner Schwinn says there is no quick fix and “there must be realistic expectations” for dealing with the issue.

As more and more middle Tennessee schools return to in-person schooling, WalletHub is out with a new survey that parents likely won’t find comforting.

The company released its report on the safest states for schools to reopen Monday, ranking Tennessee as the 6th least safe state.

TDH’s Reporting Format

On September 3, the Tennessee Department of Health announced changes to the format for sharing data on COVID-19, updating how some metrics are calculated, reflecting evolving knowledge of the pandemic.

The new format reflects a change in how active cases are calculated.

Under the new format, TDH case count reports will include figures for “Inactive/Recovered” cases and will no longer include data for “Recovered” cases. “Inactive/Recovered” cases will include people who are 14 days or more beyond their illness onset date (or, for asymptomatic cases, their specimen collection date). This will more closely align with what is now understood about the infectious period of COVID-19, as recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show most patients with COVID-19 are no longer infectious after 10 days. Previously, TDH considered a case recovered after a 21-day period.

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