As Sumner County experience another record-breaking week of new coronavirus cases, local health officials say they are concerned Thanksgiving could lead to even more infections.
According to data from the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 1,039 new Covid-19 cases reported countywide between Nov. 11 and Nov. 17 – the largest weekly total for the county since the pandemic began earlier this year. The previous record was 634 new cases the week before.
A new single-day record for the county was also set on Sunday when 219 new cases of the virus were reported locally.
“With up to 40 percent of those infected showing few to no symptoms, the virus can spread quickly,” Sumner Regional Medical Center Director of Marketing and Communications Kyle Brogdon said Monday. “Unfortunately, the continued surge and prevalence of Covid-19 has the potential to overwhelm our local healthcare delivery system, which is why we all must do our part to protect ourselves, our healthcare workers and our communities.”
Prior to this month, the county had been averaging less than 263 new weekly cases following a surge in late July which local health officials attributed in part to social gatherings tied to Independence Day.
The surge in cases combined with the annual flu season could affect response times for patients in need of medical assistance, according to Greg Miller, chief of Sumner County Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
“If we have a major spike in flu to go along with the major spike that we’re seeing with Covid-19, then there are going to be a lot of people waiting a very long time in these hospital waiting rooms,” Miller said. “We’re also not far from people having a wait time for ambulances because they may not be in your community. They may be somewhere else transporting Covid-19 patients (to hospitals in Nashville) because our local hospitals are filling up.”
So far this month there have been 33 coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Sumner County, according to state health department data. There were 39 hospitalizations countywide in October and 62 in September.
Across Tennessee, there were 1,929 individuals hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Monday. Of those, 525 were in an intensive care unit (ICU) and 234 were on a ventilator. Less than 270 of the 2,049 ICU beds statewide were listed as being available.
“Over the past few weeks, within our TriStar Health facilities, we have seen an increase in patients hospitalized with Covid-19,” TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center Marketing and Communications Specialist Rachel Lassiter said. “We have the bed capacity, staffing, supplies and equipment we need at this time. Our hospital leaders are continually monitoring the situation closely and continue to plan by assessing resources, support and best practices across TriStar Health and our parent company, HCA Healthcare, to ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the community.”
Sumner Regional is also prepared to handle an influx of patients and expand the capacity of the hospital if needed, according to Brogdon.
As a result of the recent rise in coronavirus cases locally, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt reinstated a countywide mask mandate last month. The order is set to expire on Dec. 29 at 11:59 p.m.
As of Tuesday, there had been a total of 8,312 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 reported in Sumner County along with 126 deaths and 6,891 recoveries, according to state health department data. In Tennessee, there had been 298,288 confirmed cases, 3,705 confirmed deaths and 276,497 recoveries.
“This pandemic is not going away quietly,” Miller said. “Definitely continue frequent handwashing, social distancing and wearing a mask in those situations in which you can’t socially distance. Those are going to be three things that will help ensure the safety of you and your family.”