For the first time, Tennessee has reported 100 deaths from COVID-19 on a single day. But epidemiologists know worse is on the way.
There’s a built-in lag because of the time it takes to process death certificates and match those up with positive tests. And Vanderbilt University’s Melissa McPheeters says cases and hospitalizations have only risen in recent weeks.
“The thing to remember is that we’ve already set the trajectory for the next few weeks,” she says. “So as those hospitalizations are going up, those deaths that follow are already set at a higher level.”
Total deaths during the pandemic also eclipsed 5,000 people this week, less than a month after hitting 4,000, and hospitalizations have been on a steady march upward, surpassing 2,500 this week. The state has nearly twice as many COVID patients in the hospital now than it did during the surge this summer.
But rather than feeling defeated about what seems inevitable, McPheeters says the sobering statistics should inspire people to be more vigilant over the next few months. Otherwise, January and February could dwarf 100 reported deaths a day.