Gov. Lee, Tennessee Department of Health hold briefings amid virus surge

Bill Lee
Posted at 1:18 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 22:39:24-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Health held separate briefings Monday afternoon as the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to surge.

The Tennessee Department of Health held a media briefing to provide an update on COVID-19 in Tennessee and the status of vaccinations throughout the state.

Lee held his press briefing shortly after the Dept. of Health reported an additional 9,891 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths. Monday's testing percent positive was 16.05%.

Monday's increase brings the total number of people who have tested positive for COVID to 529,578.

On Sunday, Gov. Lee gave a statewide address asking Tennesseans to wear masks and avoid gatherings with anyone other than their immediate household in hopes of avoiding another holiday surge.

Earlier that day, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey referenced the CDC data showing Tennessee had more new COVID cases by population last week than any other state. Piercey confirmed Tennessee's infections are over 40% higher than the national average and the active case count grew by more than two-thirds last week.

She attributes much of that spread to asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Piercey also called on residents to not gather outside their households and to wear masks.

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.