Vanderbilt researchers say COVID-19 hospitalization has doubled in Nashville over the last month

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Posted at 3:43 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 16:43:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New research on the COVID-19 pandemic's impact in Tennessee has been released by Vanderbilt University.

Researchers who are part of the Vanderbilt COVID Modeling Team say the report provides a snapshot of current infections and hospitalizations in Tennessee. The report also includes information from the state's most populated regions, the Tennessee Highland Rim, which includes Metro Nashville, and the Mid-South Region, which includes Memphis.

The data says the state is not at a point of stressing hospital capacity, but it does point out that the hospitalization rate is increasing.

"New cases occurring across the state over the past month have, however, led to statewide hospitalizations increasing by 40% overall," the report said.

Hospitalizations in the Tennessee Highland Rim have almost doubled in the last month.

Researchers suggest continued attention to hospital capacity and resources for testing and tracing.

As of May 11, 275 people were still being treated in the hospital for COVID-19, with the highest amounts in the Tennessee Highland Rim and Mid-South regions.

Tennessee has moved into the early phases of reopening and the report notes that due to the virus's incubation period of up to 14 days, cases reported through this week likely reflect infections that were transmitted up to two weeks ago. Therefore, researchers say it is too early to assess the impact of businesses reopening.

The state data shows there is currently a transmission rate of 0.96, with a confidence interval of 0.90 to 1.04.

The state's two largest populations of Nashville and Memphis have a similar transmission rate around 1.0. In Nashville, this is with a interval of 0.92 to 1.09. In Memphis it is between 0.91 and 1.10.

Researchers reported two spikes in cases since its last report was released on April 28, which can be attributed to clusters in settings like prisons and nursing homes. The state has also since expanded testing with free drive-thru test centers in 37 counties.

"This expansion in the scope and capacity of testing has very likely resulted in a larger proportion of total infections being tested and reported. The recent changes in testing capacity in Tennessee makes modeling COVID-19 trends difficult because the rise in the number of cases could either reflect improved detection of existing infections as testing capacity increases, evidence of an increase in transmission, or both," the report said.

According to the Vanderbilt COVID Modeling Team, at least one person was tested and confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days in 77 of Tennessee's 95 counties.

Based on the new data, researchers believe 4% of active infections require hospitalization. This number is down form 5% in the group's original report on April 10. They also say the average length of stay in hospitals is seven days.

According to the research, Tennessee currently is seeing a mortality rate at 0.9%, which is down slightly from 1.0%.

To read the report by the Vanderbilt Modeling Team, click here.