NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee Health officials are seeing a large spike in COVID-19 cases as the state works to get its budget ready for 2021.

Gov. Bill Lee said he will not shut down the economy again and state departments are forced to make budget cuts.

"It’s a time to be cautious it’s a time to be fiscally responsible," Lee said.

Health officials told NEWS4 last week's daily average of new coronavirus cases sat around 2,900, leaving many afraid a new surge will set the state back even more.

"Sleep overs and dinner parties, these are generally areas when people aren’t wearing masks inside a home," Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said. "This is not the time to let down our guard."

Piercey told NEWS4 this surge of COVID-19 could be larger than what the state saw during the summer and hospitals are feeling the strain for staff to have beds readily available.

"We are doubling down our efforts for personal responsibility," she said.

Some doctors say more needs to be done, including Vanderbilt's Dr. William Schaffner who has been a major proponent of encouraging people to wear a mask to slow the spread of the virus.

"If you want to eat three hamburgers and two scoops of ice cream for you lunch. That's between you and the arteries to your heart. Personal responsibility that's up to you," Schaffner said. "But when you don't wear a mask that affects others around you."

Dr. Schaffner agreed with Dr. Piercey's outlook, we could be heading for a dangerous winter.

"Well Dr. Piercey and I are absolutely singing from the same sheet of music. I also think this next wave will be the worst ever. I'm really very concerned," he said.

State Health officials said a plan for distributing a vaccine once it is available is in the works, hoping one is available as early as December.

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