NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A total of 2,106 new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday among Tennessee's school-age children (5-18 years old).
It is the highest daily total in children the state has reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
BREAKING: An absolutely stunning 2,106 new #COVID19 cases reported today among Tennessee's school-age children. For our kids, this is the worst moment of the pandemic. DETAILED ANALYSIS TO FOLLOW. 1/ pic.twitter.com/o01wBE61Pz— Phil Williams (@NC5PhilWilliams) August 20, 2021
With children back in school, the number of COVID cases has steadily increased. Williamson County's Fairview Middle School even had to close Friday due to illness in faculty and staff saying they didn't have enough people to properly staff the building.
The state has already reported 17,260 COVID cases in August, making it the second-worst month since August of last year for children.
MASKS IN SCHOOLS
Even though a few school districts including Shelby and Davidson Counties have voted to temporarily require masks in schools. Governor Bill Lee said he will not issue a mask mandate for schools.
Instead, he signed an executive order allowing parents to opt kids out of any school mask mandates.
"...While local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important," Gov. Lee said in part. "Districts will make the decision they believe are best for their schools, but parents will have the ultimate decision-making for their individual child’s health and well-being."
However, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all students, teachers, and staff wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.
COVID CASES SURGE IN TENNESSEE
As the delta variant spreads through the state, hospitals have reached their limits.
On Friday, leaders from 10 Middle Tennessee hospitals and health care systems wrote a letter to unvaccinated Tennesseans begging them to get vaccinated.
The letter says more than 90% of people who are hospitalized due to COVID are unvaccinated and that “nearly all those patients could be safely at home with their friends and family right now if they had chosen to get the vaccine.”
Prior to the unified letter, the CEO of Sumner Regional Medical Center released her own open letter saying COVID-19 patients make up more than 40 percent of the hospital's inpatient census. Since August 1, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital has increased 300%, with the majority of them being unvaccinated.