Four Nashville hospitals are encouraging residents to wear masks, wash hands and stay socially distant, though their joint statement released Tuesday didn’t go so far as to call for additional COVID-19 restrictions.
Ascension Saint Thomas, TriStar Health, Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt Health noted that the region has experienced a 40% increase in COVID-19 patients over the last two weeks, and they’re warning of another surge as temperatures drop and activities move indoors.
“Unless we act now to curb the transmission rates in Middle Tennessee, we expect this trend to continue,” the statement read.
Other hospitals in the state’s less populous areas have seen record numbers of patients. Cookeville Regional Medical Center had about 50 patients in its care over the weekend, more than any other time during the pandemic, according to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.
Maury Regional in Columbia is also at a pandemic high point. A hospital executive tells the Columbia Daily Herald that COVID is being spreading at small gatherings with families and friends and that the community has to “take this seriously.”
Williamson Medical Center said last week it’s seeing a surge in patients too.
But the statement by the four hospitals in Nashville did not recommend any additional government-led action, such as implementing a mask mandate or enforcing social distancing. Many of their patients are coming from surrounding communities that no longer have rules about face coverings or business capacity limits.
In Middle Tennessee, only Metro Nashville is still requiring people to wear masks in public, although Gov. Bill Lee’s office now says he plans to extend the executive order that lets other Tennessee counties implement mask mandates through the end of the year. In general, Lee has encouraged Tennesseans to take personal responsibility for masking up.