What to know about Tennessee’s highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases

After a month of a steadily worsening coronavirus outbreak, Tennessee reported the highest-ever count of new infections on Friday — 1,410.

State health officials also reported 67 new hospitalizations, which is the highest daily total since early May, and the 7-day average for hospitalizations is higher than ever. At least 577 people have died from the virus in the state, including 10 reported Friday.

At least 13,114 people are actively infected with the virus, which is also the most ever.

The new infection record comes as the coronavirus pandemic strengthens across Tennessee and the nation. The spread of the virus flattened in May as many Americans stayed home to avoid exposure, but since states and cities reopened businesses to restart their economies, infections have surged.

California, Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas have all reported highest-ever daily case totals this week. The nationwide record for new cases has been broken this week at least twice.

In Tennessee, the administration of Gov. Bill Lee previously described a recent rise in coronavirus infections as an “expected” and “manageable” impact of reopening the economy. After the infection spike was revealed on Friday, administration officials did not say if they still felt the increase was expected or manageable.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey issued an email statement saying the new cases showed a “continued trend” of concentrated infection in metropolitan areas.

“Hospital capacity continues to remain stable statewide,” Piercey said. “We remind Tennesseans that COVID-19 is still very much present in our state, and we strongly encourage them to be vigilant in maintaining social distancing, frequent hand-washing and utilizing face coverings.”

Lee said earlier this week that his administration was closely monitoring the spread of the virus, but downplayed the importance of daily case counts.

“What we are watching for are trends, and we are specifically looking at health care capacity, hospitalization data, death rates per capita,” Lee said Tuesday. “Those are the things that are the real manifestations of this COVID-19 pandemic that we are most closely following.”

Although the 1,410 new infections reported by the state on Friday is the largest daily total ever, it is not as dire as it may appear at first glance. These infections were detected from nearly 14,500 coronavirus tests, which is well above the state’s average of about 10,500 tests per day. Daily infection totals generally fluctuate in response to the number of test results collected.

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