NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As reopening continues across the country and Tennessee and its biggest cities have entered phase two of reopening, hospitalizations are up across the state, according to research by ABC.
Nearly 20 states are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the weeks since reopening, but two states among the earliest to reopen are seeing a dramatic increase in those hospitalized in the last week compared to the week before: Arkansas (65.8%) and Tennessee (65.1%).
“The consequence probably of opening up,” said Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases, “As we opened up, there were more opportunities for people to get together and more opportunities for the COVID virus to spread.”
The number of positive cases in Tennessee during a 7-day span from May 25 to June 1 and June 1 to June 8 only increased by a few hundred, but hospitalizations changed by 65 percent.
“We’re certainly seeing it in Tennessee, it’s a gradual rise throughout the state and indeed in Nashville,” said Schaffner.
Schaffner added that hospitalizations require specific symptoms, age, or underlying illnesses.
“They’re more likely to need hospitalization because they have much more severe disease, they develop some trouble breathing, and that’s why they’re hospitalized,” he said.
This doesn’t mean COVID-19 is getting more severe as we reopen, but instead, it’s reaching more people who may have compromised immune systems.
“The more the virus spreads in the community, the more likely it is to find someone who’s older and someone who has an underlying illness, and then when that happens those people are more likely to get severe disease and require hospitalization,” explained Schaffner.
Stats also show low availability at ICU’s in Tennessee, currently at 33 percent.
“I think it’s a signal that we all need to be prudent and careful,” advised Schaffner, “We’re opening up, but we ought to open up carefully.”
Percent increase in hospitalizations since May 25th:
North Carolina: 19.3%
South Carolina: 6.6%
*Based on 7-day averages comparing week as of May 25 versus week as of June 8