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Tennessee's ICU bed availability hits new low as COVID-19 cases continue surge

TN COVID hospitalizations Nov 30 2020.png
Posted at 9:14 AM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-27 00:20:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The number of intensive care unit beds available in Tennessee has sunk to a new low as the state continues to deal with a growing surge in COVID-19 cases.

According to the latest data from overnight, Tennessee has just 186 ICU beds still available for the entire state.

That's 9% of the state's ICU capacity.

Nearly every day brings a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

There were 2,369 patients in Tennessee hospitals with confirmed cases of the virus as of Monday night, the data shows. That's up from 1,465 hospitalized COVID patients at the beginning of November.

In addition to the 2,369 confirmed hospitalizations, there were another 263 possible cases awaiting confirmation - for a combined record total of 2,632 confirmed and possible COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Health authorities are expecting a "super surge" of COVID-19 cases in the next two weeks as a result of family gatherings associated with Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

On Monday, Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced that it is deferring select non-emergency procedures in order to prepare for that anticipated explosion of cases.

"While we all hope to be proven wrong, like the experts in COVID modeling, we expect a post-Thanksgiving increase in diagnoses and hospitalizations. Some are calling what we expect to experience a 'super surge,'" said Deputy Chief Executive Officer C. Wright Pinson.

Dr. Pinson said in a letter to VUMC staff that not only is the hospital seeing a surge in COVID-19 patients, but the patients are also sicker than in recent months, requiring more ICU-level support.

"We are concerned enough that beginning today, to prioritize resources for the most immediate needs of the region, we will begin deferring select, non-emergent procedures," Dr. Pinson said.

"As we go about this process, we will be doing so in a way that each case will be individually reviewed. Procedures chosen to be deferred will be based on consultation with our clinicians and the safety of each patient involved. And in each case appointments will be rescheduled as quickly as possible."