COVID-19 UPDATE (3/27/20): State reports 2 deaths, 246 new infections in 24 hours
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is no longer current. State health officials are updating the COVID-19 infection numbers daily at 2 p.m. Central Time. Please look for the latest report at WMOT.org/news.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- State Health officials reported Friday afternoon that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee rose by 246 infections over the past 24 hours, for a current total of 1,203 cases.
Officials are also reporting two additional virus related deaths in the past day, for a total of six deaths statewide. There are now 103 Tennesseans hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications.
Metro Nashville officials say there are now 312 confirmed coronavirus infections in Davidson County. They also reported a second virus related death on Friday. Mayor John Cooper revealed the deceased is a 67-year-old man with a history of health concerns.
State officials say Shelby County has Tennessee's second highest number of COVID-19 infections, reporting 201 cases on Friday. Hamilton County has 30 cases, Robertson County 22, Rutherford County 39, Sumner County 58 and Williamson County 91 confirmed infections.
Gov. Bill Lee has signed another pandemic related Executive Order. The order runs six pages long and loosens various state regulations on healthcare providers. The goal is to make it easier for practitioners to respond to the crisis.
The order eases rules for pharmacists and mental health providers. It makes telemedicine more readily available, waves some licensing requirements on first responders and permits some retired doctors to return to practice.
The Tennessee Supreme Court is also responding to the coronavirus outbreak. The state high court this week ordered local judges to avoid issuing eviction orders. It also requires judges to submit plans for reducing inmate populations in local jails.
The justices extended the suspension of in-person court proceedings statewide. They are encouraging judges to continue cases to the extent possible by phone, video and email.
The pandemic related damage to Tennessee’s economy is coming into sharper focus. The state reports there were more than 39,000 new claims for jobless benefits last week,14 times higher than the previous week.
The coronavirus could resurrect Tennessee’s lost rural hospitals. Eleven rural medical centers have closed in recent years. The Tennessean reports that, should the pandemic overwhelm existing facilities, Gov. Bill Lee has contingency plans for opening the shuttered hospitals. Lee reportedly discussed the plan this week during a conference call with city and county mayors. More than half of Tennessee’s 95 counties have now reported at least one case of COVID-19.