NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Wednesday he intended to extend the state of emergency in the state because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Lee's executive order will allow federal funds to come into the state to help with the pandemic, cities and counties to meet virtually and extend the duration that local county mayors can institute a mask mandate.
Tennessee's COVID-19 hospitalizations are at an all-time high as there has been an increase in cases in the state.
"We are setting new records every day," said Dr. Wendy Long, President and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association. "What we need Tennesseans to do is to mask up and social distance."
In case you missed the Governor’s press conference today, we learned from @tnhospitals President Dr. Wendy Long that, “Hospitalizations are at an all time high. We are setting new records every day and what we need Tennesseans to do is to stop the spread.” @WSMV pic.twitter.com/otvWaUOwhn— Ryan Breslin (@RyBrez) October 28, 2020
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 254,220 cases, up 2,446 from Tuesday. There are currently 1,254 COVID patients in a hospital.
"We do believe this is actually an increase in transmission," said Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner. "Cases are up, positivity are up, it's not because we're testing more."
.@TNDeptofHealth Dr. Piercey also said not to listen to the narrative that the rise in cases is because more testing is being done. She said, “We’ve always been a strong testing state and we continue to remain that way. We do believe this is actually an increase in transmission.”— Ryan Breslin (@RyBrez) October 28, 2020
Tennessee has reported 18,359 new COVID-19 cases in the past week.
Lee said wearing masks and testing are the most important part of stopping the spread of the virus.
"We believe Tennesseans, as we saw in July, people masked up and we saw case counts reduce. We need people to that again," said Lee. "That's what it will take and that's what we'll continue to ask to do."
Free testing is available through the health departments in every county.
The Governor's Unified Command Group has also set up six drive-through testing locations on Saturday, including at the fairgrounds in Wilson and Smith counties in Middle Tennessee.