NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New COVID-19 cases are dramatically surging across Tennessee, with hospitalizations and deaths once again on the rise, a new analysis by NewsChannel 5 Investigates reveals.
The resurgence of the virus comes as county mayors across the state have ended mask mandates that were designed to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Last week, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 13,054 new COVID-19 cases, a 50% increase over the prior week. It was the highest weekly total for new cases for the last 10 weeks.
According to the state data, the highest infection rates are occurring in Tennessee's rural counties, many of which never had mask mandates.
New COVID-19 cases among school-age children, ages 5-18, also continue to rise.
Last week's total of 1,568 new COVID-19 cases among school-age children was a 25% increase over the prior week and the highest weekly total of the last 10 weeks.
As of Friday, state data shows there were 1,025 people hospitalized in Tennessee with confirmed cases of the virus, the highest daily count since mid-August.
Of those 1,025 patients, 300 were listed as being in intensive care and 148 were on ventilators.
Another 134 hospitalized patients were listed Friday as possible COVID-19 cases, awaiting confirmation.
While the latest numbers appear to show a decrease in hospitalizations, fewer facilities report over the weekends and hospitalization numbers are typically revised upward by Tuesday of each week.
The Department of Health website currently lists 371 ICU beds as available statewide, 18% of the total capacity, although hospitals in some parts of the state may experience more strain than others.
Another 2,253 floor beds, about 19%of capacity, are available throughout Tennessee.
In addition, the state of Tennessee also reported 198 new deaths last week, the highest weekly total in five weeks.
So far, 2,767 Tennesseans have died as a result of COVID-19.