Tenn. Health Commissioner says coronavirus 'community spread' is growing, urges precautions

Jun 23, 2020

Credit Tenn. Dept. of Health

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  The state Commissioner of Health said Tuesday that the way most Tennesseans become infected with coronavirus is changing. 

Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey told reporters during a Tuesday press briefing that virus transmission via so-called “community spread” is growing across Tennessee. Community spread refers to cases where the infected individual cannot identify where they came in contact with the virus.

Dr. Piercey explained that until this week her team of 700 contract tracers were able to reliably help most virus-positive individuals identify where they contracted coronavirus. Now, Piercey says exactly half of all new COVID-19 infections are being reported as from an “unknown source.”

Dr. Piercey went on to say that this change is to be expected given that Tennesseans are now moving about their communities more freely. She then went on to say “We want you to move about and want you to be comfortable doing that but we want you to do it safely.”

As she has in each of the state’s weekly press briefings, Dr. Piercey stressed the need to practice strict social distancing and personal hygiene protocols. She recommended continued use of masks, frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your face, and maintaining social distance.

The Health Commissioners comments come against the backdrop of a recent spike in the number of new infections in Tennessee. An all-time record for COVID-19 cases confirmed in a single day was set on Friday when state officials reported nearly 1200 new cases in 24 hours.

Interestingly, this past week health officials in Nashville made the opposite observation about the source of new infections across Metro Davidson County.

It was noted that new data provided by the city’s team of contract tracers indicated the majority of new infections were occurring in small group gatherings. Health officials suggested Nashvillians were failing to observe coronavirus precautions when visiting with family and friends.