NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro Nashville is seeing more people hospitalized from COVID-19 this week.
Officials said 390 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday for the past 24 hours and there are 249 people hospitalized, down a bit from the peak hit on Monday of 252 COVID patients.
So where are people getting the virus most often?
Community spread is driving up the COVID numbers in Nashville again. We’re in a second spike.
“Test and isolate is an important weapon,” said Dr. Gill Wright, Associate Medical Director for the Metro Public Health Department. “People are getting it out and about. They may not even know where they’re getting it from.”
Wright said the contact tracers are finding people are often getting infected for social gatherings, like backyard parties when you let your guard down with family or friends.
“Keep your gathering size small. Try not to do any hugging or kissing. Try to keep your mask on, even indoors, because you don’t know where that person has been and you don’t know what your history is and you don’t want to share it with the loved one,” said Wright.
If it’s nice, eat outside. If not, give each other some space.
“Spread that table out and sit further apart,” said Wright. “If you’re just sitting at the table and not eating, put your mask back on.”
Remember spending several hours together increases your exposure time.
“It’s that close interaction over a prolonged period of time, which is what makes you a contact,” said Wright.
With the increase in COVID-19 cases, does that mean Mayor John Cooper will increase restrictions on businesses and bars again?
Mayor John Cooper said no because that’s not where most people are getting the virus.
“If I had a wish, I would require people at weddings to wear masks,” said Cooper at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing. “The spread isn’t happening at regulated social events.”
Officials still believe smaller gatherings among family and friends may be the reason it continues to spread, and they’re concerned about Thanksgiving later this month.
“I’ve been asked many times if we need to go back. We don’t. We need to focus on being safer,” said Cooper. “Most transmission is happening in areas that aren’t easy to solve by regulation.”
The city is stressing that people can have gatherings safely.
Metro’s contact tracers have not traced any cases to events that had been permitted through the Metro Health Department. That’s the program where you apply for a permit then the department helps you follow safe guidelines, like wearing masks and limiting alcohol.
As of Thursday, there are 2,425 active cases in Davidson County. While the numbers are high, local health officials are encouraged that Nashville is ranked 48th out of 95 counties in the state when it comes to transmission rate.
They believe Nashville’s higher hospitalization numbers are coming from people who live outside Davidson County but are coming to the city for medical care.
“Masks work. Right now, masks are the most effective tool we have to fight this virus. This is fact. Period,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force.
Jahangir said every Midstate county that re-implemented a mask mandate saw a drop in the number of positive cases after it went into effect.