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Fewer than 400 ICU beds remain in Tennessee as COVID-19 hospitalization rises

Dr. Milstone calls on Gov. Lee to issue a statewide mask order
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Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 19:23:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Experts say it’s a dangerous combination. As the COVID-19 case count continues to rise in Tennessee, availability in intensive care units is becoming harder to find.

Tennessee ICU bed space is decreasing

"We literally had 480 beds right before the Fourth of July and now we’re down to 393 ICU beds," said Dr. Aaron Milstone, a leading pulmonologist at Williamson Medical Center.

393 available ICU beds make up about 20% of the total amount of ICU space in Tennessee.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations are up

"You have to remember the population of the state of Tennessee approaches 7 million people, so now that our state is averaging 40-50 new COVD-19 patients hospitalized a day, these numbers are going to continue to whittle away at our capacity," said Dr. Milstone.

It's a ripple effect that could impact supplies, testing and even patients that don't have the Coronavirus. "If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke or if you’re a young person in a car accident, you may not be able to go to a hospital you want to go to," he said.

Dr. Milstone admits that shutting down the economy again just isn't a viable option. So he suggests we all wear masks and the state should make it mandatory. "When we don’t have leadership from the top, we end up with a patchwork quilt of efforts," said Dr. Milstone.

In addition to a statewide mask order, Milstone tells NewsChannel 5, he also wants to see the state actually enforce the Tennessee Pledge for businesses.

"Then you have to have a way to report that to the state. So if your employer is endangering the public or their workers, we have to have a way to hold them accountable," he said.

He's worried if the situation doesn't change, things will get worse.

"The time to act in the crisis is now. If we let this get out of hand, which it appears we are, we are really going to pay for it when the flu season starts in 90 days, if not sooner," said Dr. Milstone.